Things must change. The mountain region is being severely impacted by high healthcare costs, and the state legislature has the opportunity to help address this issue.
As business leaders dedicated to economic vitality of the Vail Valley, Vail Valley Partnership focuses on issues that impact our trade region, our communities, our businesses, and our citizens.
The Partnership’s goal with our advocacy efforts are to advance issues and rely on local and government to carry out their roles for good public policy. The key here is policy, not politics. We’re not interested in partisan politics, but rather holding elected officials on either side of the aisle to good policy.
Advocacy is act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy. In essence, advocacy is actively supporting something important to you. Businesses are in our community need someone to help speak collectively for them and the business community as a whole, and VVP is here to create a voice for our region and with our legislators. As one of the largest Chambers of Commerce in Colorado, and in the mountain region, we are uniquely able to advocate effectively on behalf of Eagle County business few other organizations or associations can.
The Partnership supports House Bill 1004, sponsored by Representative Dylan Roberts, concerning a proposal for implementing a competitive state option for more affordable health care coverage in Colorado, and, in connection therewith, requesting authorization to use existing federal money for the proposed state option and taking other actions toward the implementation of the state option.
Eagle County residents are burdened by high health insurance payments. According to our annual workforce survey, employers believe that the cost of health insurance is a critical or major problem in Eagle County resulting in a negative impact on employee retention and recruitment. Businesses across industry sector are impacted and list health insurance and healthcare costs as a barrier to growth. We believe a strong and affordable option for health insurance costs is necessary, and HB1004 is a potential step in this direction.
Opponents are quick to play the “government isn’t the solution” card. They may be right; but what is the harm in researching options that might result in lowering prices for mountain and western slope residents? Opposing a yet-to-be-determined program reeks of politics and lacks pragmatism.
The Partnership believes that communities such as ours need to find ways to get to “yes”, and that government should be able to play a part in this effort. We believe health insurance options need to increase in order to lower costs; and that it will take a variety of programs, including public-private partnerships, association group plans, and the potential of a state option, to meaningfully address our needs. State innovation waivers, increased price transparency, and preventative care and cost-sharing programs such as the One Valley Healthcare Program are likely part of any meaningful solution.
The problem with viewing community issues such as healthcare from a political perspective is that it often eliminates potential pragmatic solutions that might not align with your politics – on either side of the aisle.
We cannot promise to support any proposed public solution – because we can’t pretend to know what the solution might be, and because there are many variables at work. However, we encourage the state government to research options, and to be open-minded and flexible to facilitate the development of various options to mitigate high health insurance costs in Eagle County and throughout Colorado.
Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com