Two days after taking the oath of office, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis addressed a joint session of the Colorado General Assembly on Thursday to outline his goals for office. During his first State of the State address, he laid out his plans for early childhood education, health care, agriculture, the environment, the economy and tax reform.
In his health care agenda, he recognized Gov. John Hickenlooper and legislators for their work to expand Medicaid and cut the uninsured rate to 6.5 percent.
“But despite all the progress we’ve made, health care costs are still rising today, and families are still being ripped off,” Polis said. “It’s time for us to build a health care system where no person has to choose between losing their life savings and losing their life. It’s time for Coloradans to pay a fair price for the prescription drugs they need. It’s time for folks experiencing mental illness or addiction to get treatment, not jail time.”
He proposes cutting health care costs by:
- Empowering the Division of Insurance to protect consumers and support rural and mountain communities working to lower their health care costs,
- Establishing a reinsurance program to reduce costs and save Coloradans money, and
- Addressing the “appalling costs” of prescription drugs.
Polis announced the creation of the “first-ever Office of Saving People Money on Health Care,” to be led by Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera, to reduce patient costs for hospital stays and expenses, improve price transparency, lower the price of prescription drugs, and make health insurance more affordable.
He told the audience that we must “get a grip on the opioid epidemic” and that he will work with legislators from both parties on solutions that focus on both addiction prevention and access to effective treatment.
And, finally, he stated his ultimate objective, as he did many times on the campaign trail: “to bring universal, high-quality, affordable care to every Colorado family.”
As the Denver Post reports, the question now becomes how to pay for many of the programs he proposes and the legislature will debate this session. “Lawmakers have about $1.5 billion in new revenue. However, the 10-figure number is not nearly as much as it sounds like when discussing high-ticket items. For Polis to advance his agenda, he’ll need to convince lawmakers — starting with the six members who author the state budget.”
Click here to read the full state of the state address.