Health care forum looks at potential changes to health care system | MyWindsorNow.com
Trevor Reid
treid@greeleytribune.com

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Health care forum looks at potential changes to health care system

Lavonna Longwell

From 2013 to 2016, the rate of working-age people without health insurance in Weld County dropped by 30 percent.

That's according to Mark Wallace, executive director of the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment. He also said the uninsured rate is at its lowest point since the county began tracking that number.

Wallace shared those numbers Saturday morning at a health care forum organized by Greeley Indivisible at the Monfort Family Clinic, 2930 11th Ave. More than 50 people attended the forum.

As Republicans in Congress work to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act some residents at the forum said they're worried the uninsured rate will begin to climb.

"I'm really fearful that there's going to be a lot greater numbers of people who will be uninsured," said Maddie Heil of Greeley. "It's really generated motivation for me to contact people — my representatives, the senators — because I really think that this is not the way."

Although no one at the forum voiced overt support for the GOP health care reform effort, supporters have said the ACA is fundamentally flawed and isn't working for the American people.

Representatives from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, Sunrise Community Health and the Colorado Health Institute presented their visions of what the proposed changes to the nation's health care system could mean.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act, which Senate Republicans revealed a new version of Thursday, would transition federal Medicaid funding to a set amount per enrollee starting in 2020. States also would have the option to take block grants in place of a set amount per enrollee. Some worry such a move is just passing the buck from the federal government to the state government.

"When (government officials) say, 'We have to save money,' it's because they're looking at their strata of government — you can see that with Weld County, municipal, the whole thing — the problem is that you, as taxpayers, pay all of those bills," said Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley.

With 15,000 still uninsured in the county, a few speakers wondered how the health care system could be improved. Wallace said a recent survey by the Colorado Medical Society showed 52 percent of Colorado physicians would support a move to a national single-payer system.

Greeley City Council candidate Lavonna Longwell picked up on that theme.

"Personally, I would like to see national health care. I would like to see every single citizen and resident of the United States covered," she said. "Let's see how much that costs. No one's looking at that seriously yet, so I'm hoping we will."

Changing her mind

Greeley City Council candidate Lavonna Longwell was among those who showed up Saturday for a health care forum sponsored by Greeley Indivisible. Later in the day, she took to social media to say she has decided to apply for the city’s vacant council position in Ward 2.

“After much consideration and talking to a lot of people, I have decided to apply for the vacancy on the city council,” she wrote on Facebook. “I do not agree with the current rules, but I want to be on council so I can begin a discussion about changing those rules.”

On Friday, she told The Tribune she would not apply for the position, and she said the council should not accept applications from current candidates. Her opponent, Brett Payton, said he would apply for the vacant position.

Randy Sleight resigned from his Ward 2 seat, which encompasses southeast Greeley, including the University of Northern Colorado, this past week, and Greeley officials have announced a plan to appoint Sleight’s replacement by mid-August. The appointee would face an election in November. Longwell and Payton filed paperwork to run for the seat before Sleight announced his resignation.