Issues

2021 Colorado state legislative positions

The Colorado Women’s Alliance has taken positions on several bills and proposed legislation in 2021:

OPPOSES SB21-175     Prescription Drug Affordability Board bill

Prescription Affordability Boards make no sense for women and families

Sometimes when things look too good to be true, they are.  And that often happens with well-intentioned legislation.  Such is the case with SB- 175 that creates a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. 

This bill, in a nutshell, is a government price fixing bill. If passed, a politically appointed five-person board would set the maximum price that manufacturers could charge insurance carriers, hospitals, pharmacies and others for prescription drugs.  This sounds like a great idea……. until you read the 31-page bill.  Then you will discover that it does not put a cap on what they can charge us, the consumer.

This bill does nothing to lower the price that consumers pay for prescriptions.

Let’s look at the extended consequences of price fixing.  If a drug manufacturer is limited on what it can charge a Colorado health provider for a life-saving medication, but it can fully recoup costs and make a profit by selling that same medication to providers in neighboring states, that’s exactly what they will do.  And this will lead to shortages here in Colorado on the drugs that particularly treat the most debilitating diseases. Drugs that treat cancer, sickle-cell anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and similar life altering illnesses are those that are most at risk of having limited access, according to the way the bill is written.

This bill would, if approved in its present form, reduce the amount that health insurance providers, hospitals and pharmacies pay for medications but not what they charge us; and it would create shortages of available medications and, likely would also cause drug manufacturers to just not offer some of their most effective medications for sale in Colorado.

The bill does say that health insurance providers must use the savings to lower premiums but it does not indicate by what percentage or reference the equivalent of premium reduction to cost savings on what they are paying for the medications. Any reduction in premiums would qualify – even 50 cents.  The rest of the savings, they could pocket.

The bill also establishes a new department, with employees, including a highly paid executive director, so not only do we not realize savings on our prescription drugs but we, the taxpayer, is also on the hook for the increased costs of the newly established bureaucracy.

There are better ways to reduce healthcare costs. We just don’t think that this proposal will accomplish that for women and their families.

OPPOSES HB21-1232   Public Option Healthcare bill

The Colorado Women’s Alliance submitted testimony to the House Health and Insurance Committee for a hearing held April 9. Here it is, in its entirety:

 Testimony on HB21-1232

From:  Joni Inman, Executive Director Colorado Women’s Alliance

 Members of the Colorado House Health & Insurance Committee:

During the last year, the pandemic has taken a huge financial toll on women.  A year ago, women owned over 224,000 businesses in Colorado.  Today, many of those have been shuttered due to forced closures. Other women have lost jobs and many have been unable to return to work, even if work were available, because of school closures and the cost of daycare. Many of the women who lost jobs actually worked in health care.

 Every two years the Colorado Women’s Alliance conducts a statewide poll of women voters, across all party lines, to ask open-ended questions about what they would like to see the Governor and you, their state legislators, focus on in the coming years. It’s not surprising that last fall, approximately 1,500 women said healthcare costs were important but not nearly as important as Creating Jobs, Public Education, and the Rising Cost of Housing – in that order.

 And when they DID talk about healthcare, they referenced the need to:

              – Reduce wait list time for services

              – Reduce the cost of insurance premiums

              – Allow consumers to, and I quote one respondent, “pick and choose the plan that’s right for us, instead of being dictated to on what we have to have.”

              – And, in the more rural areas, healthcare priorities were more local – the need for more clinics and pharmacies and the need for more EMTs.

 This bill does nothing to remedy any of those issues. We already know that government-run health care results in longer wait times for patients.  We already know that in those states where public options have been implemented, like Washington State, premiums are not dropping but in fact are rising.

 We, at the Colorado Women’s Alliance, are opposed to HB21-1232 and we urge legislators to focus on sensible reform that we know is already working: increased telemedicine opportunities, membership health care groups such as those offered by privately owned insurance companies that are self-funded and provide options for independent contractors (many of whom are women,) real estate agents and others, and creating transparency on pricing for routine office visits, procedures and prescription medications.

 I leave you with one final finding from our statewide survey of female voters. Half of the respondents said, “Politicians need to get a handle on this,” (meaning the cost of healthcare) and the other half, almost evenly split, said, “Government needs to stay out of it.” Good luck!

 Thank you,

 Joni Inman, Executive Director Colorado Women’s Alliance

303-568-0874

[email protected]

OPPOSES Gas Per Gallon “Fee” proposed by the State

Opposing a per-gallon gas “fee”

Women have been hurt enough in the past year

During the last year, the pandemic has taken a financial toll on women. A year ago, women owned over 224,000 businesses in Colorado. Today, many of those have been shuttered due to forced closures. Others have lost jobs and many have been unable to return to work, even if work were available, because of school closures and the cost of daycare. And for those lucky enough to be hanging on, new mandatory premiums are being taken out of their paychecks to fund the new family medical leave program, approved by voters in November.

And now the State Legislature is preparing to add yet another “fee” on top of the State’s already existing gas tax, paid at the pump.

The Colorado Women’s Alliance opposes the proposed fee.  While revenue from the fee would be allocated to much needed road and highway improvements, this is simply not a good time to take more money out of the pockets of Colorado families.

Throughout the pandemic, the leisure, hospitality, education, health care, and retail sectors have been hit the hardest, and subsequently women have fallen victim to the current economic downfall at a disproportionate rate to men. At a time when Coloradans simply can’t afford to pay more at the pump, adding a new gas fee will only make it harder for Colorado women to get back on their feet and back to work.

At the very least, if legislators are intent on enacting such a fee, we ask that it be put before the voters, as required by a recently passed ballot issue, Proposition 117.

It’s a top priority for women in Colorado to have access to affordable healthcare for their families. Women also value good pay for good teachers and the opportunity to have educational alternatives in their communities. A thriving economy leads to a strong job market, and affordable energy helps women balance the family budget. We are out advocating and educating on these issues across Colorado, and have provided a summary of our positions below.

Healthcare

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health insurance more accessible and affordable. Politicians who voted for the law said that Coloradans could keep their health policies. Instead, it caused 335,500 Coloradans and millions of other Americans to lose their individual healthcare insurance policies.

When the Affordable Care Act is fully enacted, thousands more will lose their employer-provided insurance. Many of those who lost their insurance policies now have to buy insurance policies with higher premiums and deductibles to comply with the law. Still others have lost access to their preferred hospitals and doctors. Some Americans have even lost work hours because of the law.

Colorado women deserve better. Colorado Women’s Alliance supports efforts to repeal this unpopular law and to enact real reform. Families deserve the same tax breaks on insurance as corporations, and Americans should be able to shop for plans across state lines for policies that meet their needs and budgets. Such a bill would lower health care costs by expanding individual choice, institute malpractice reforms and cut costly regulations.

Education

Colorado Women’s Alliance recognizes that when families have access to quality educational opportunities that meet the unique needs of each child, graduation rates and job opportunities increase. In Colorado, parents have choices among the state’s 1,500 plus traditional public schools and 200 public charter campuses.

Yet Colorado still has work to do in making sure that all students are getting the skills that they need. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress assessments, only 50 percent of Colorado’s 4th graders and 42 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math, and only 40 percent of 4th graders and 8th graders are proficient in reading. The Colorado Department of Education reports that only 77 percent of high school seniors graduate on time.

Some students are doing well while others are falling through the cracks. Colorado Women’s Alliance believes that families deserve the full spectrum of educational choice–public, private, and home school—so that they can engage in a learning environment that best meets their needs.

Economy

Almost everyone knows someone who is out of work and struggling, and twice as many women as men have had to resort to food stamps. While the government cannot create private sector jobs, it can impact the environment where businesses large and small flourish. A thriving economy is especially important for women seeking jobs to provide for themselves and their families. Colorado Women’s Alliance will continue to oppose an increase in regulations and taxes because unnecessary government interference hurts business growth and development leading to a negative impact women’s choices.

In addition to job opportunities, women deserve equitable pay. However, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding the “equal pay” conversation. Pay equity takes into consideration college major, occupation choices, and whether one takes time off to care for children. Life choices make a difference in salaries and lifetime earnings. Full time male employees also tend to work 8-10% more hours than full time female employees and are generally more aggressive in salary negotiations.

In the event of discriminatory situations, the Equal Pay Act provides remedies for women. Additional government action is unlikely to increase women’s pay, but could eliminate workplace flexibility. The choice to open a business in a vibrant economy, the choice to work part time while raising children, and the choice to pursue one’s dreams in a free country must be preserved.

Energy

Affordable energy is important to Colorado women. Heating the home through the winter and commuting to work are not optional budget items. When energy prices go up, there is less left over for everything else. Colorado

There are a number of energy sources under exploration or in the marketplace. Natural gas is increasingly replacing coal because it is cleaner burning. Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – has made natural gas more accessible. Fracking does not contaminate groundwater, has little impact on wildlife and agricultural land and is regulated by state and federal laws to protect water and air quality. As for alternatives to fossil fuel sources, wind power provides energy only when there is sufficient wind, kills about half a million birds each year, and requires rare earth mining to build turbines. Hydroelectric power (dams) significantly alters the environment and solar power is expensive to produce.

Colorado Women’s Alliance supports an all-of-the-above approach to energy development, with accessibility and affordability at the top of the list when considering sources of energy.

While alternative energy sources should be explored, it is important that they be brought to market without the help of taxpayer subsidies. Colorado Women’s Alliance condemns efforts to demonize energy production with half-truths and empty promises.