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Dealing with mandated healthcare costs

As we come off of the Thanksgiving holiday and go into the Christmas season, it makes me reflect on the many things for which I am thankful.

I am most thankful for my family and for our health.

I am thankful to live in this great state of Colorado and in the greatest nation on earth, the United States of America. Though our country has its ups and downs, the free enterprise system has served us well.

I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of the 59th Colorado House District.

The past year has been memorable and productive as we have balanced a state budget at a time when tax revenues were down because of a sagging economy. I’m thankful that the latest economic report shows a marked improvement and, even though we may still face budget difficulties in 2012, it will not be as difficult as in 2011.

I recently attended my first meeting of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). This is a national organization of state legislators who, along with both private and public partners, attempt to come up with policies and strategies that will help our country as a whole. Many other states are facing the same budget difficulties as Colorado.

Mandated healthcare costs are taking a higher and higher percentage of state budgets at the expense of other programs, most notably K-12 and higher education. This will continue to be the case until we get a handle on rising healthcare costs. Part of the answer to these rising costs lies in encouraging more competition in all facets of the health care industry which, in itself, is a sixth of the United States’ economy.

First, we must encourage and facilitate competition in the health insurance arena. Plainly put, we need more insurance companies. We need to reach across state lines to allow more insurance companies to do business in Colorado and we need to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit to allow for the establishment of new insurance companies.

Second, there is a huge shortage of doctors, especially primary care physicians, and other healthcare providers. To encourage more medical students, we must keep in check the rising costs of tuition in our medical schools and other healthcare personnel training facilities. We must continue to reform tort law to reduce the incidence of frivolous lawsuits that drive up the cost of hospital and physician liability insurance.

Third, we must reduce the incidence of people who take unfair advantage of the system by not paying for their own health care needs even though they have the means.

Fourth, we must reform our regulatory structure to eliminate unneeded and costly regulation that gets in the way of a competitive healthcare industry.

Finally, we must encourage the federal government to allow Colorado to have more latitude in healthcare decisions. I truly believe that the most efficient government is that which is closest to home.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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