The ColoradoCare YES campaign held an “intervention” by way of a press conference in front of the offices of ProgressNow Colorado Wednesday, raising concerns about the once progressive champions falling victim to the influence of big money in the health care debate.
“Everybody says this is an unusual election year, but Colorado politics took a bizarre turn today, because a group of people who said they always favored universal health care are coming out against it,” said best-selling author and filmmaker T.R. Reid. “These so-called “progressives” are siding with the Koch brothers and the far right fringe of the Republican Party to oppose the only plan in Colorado that would provide care for everybody.”
A large and diverse crowd was on hand to voice their support of ColoradoCare, and to express concern about the millions of dollars flooding into Colorado from out-of-state insurance companies determined to protect their profits. The inexplicable change of stance fit a pattern of organizations and politicians ostensibly speaking in support of progressive ideals, but ultimately offering nothing more than lip service paired with a sudden paralysis when it comes to taking action to bring about change in a broken health care system.
“As a political matter, our polls and the other side’s polls show Amendment 69 is winning,” Reid noted. “And why not? [ColoradoCare] covers everybody, and it saves billions, according to an independent analysis. The insurance companies are terrified that Colorado might [cut into their profits], so they are pumping in millions of dollars.”
Most of those millions are coming through the opposition group “Coloradans for Coloradans,” who receive 99% of their funding from corporations, with the vast majority of their funds coming from out of state. ProgressNow is already using the talking points for the opposition group – talking points crafted by a lobbying firm that represents PharmA.
“This is the political establishment squashing the voice of the people,” Senator Irene Aguilar said of the mystifying alliance. “Whose interests are they pursuing, yours or their own? Follow the money. Look at the Secretary of State’s [website to track] campaign donations. Candidates and elected officials are required to disclose their campaign contributions, and you’ll find no shortage of Big Pharma and Big Medicine lining up to fill the coffers of candidates across party lines as a proven investment in buying influence.”
A quick search of the Secretary of State’s website revealed that the featured speaker at an opposition press conference, Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, received at least a dozen contributions in 2016 from special interest groups with a stake in the health insurance industry, including Allstate, American Family Life Assurance, The Colorado State Association of Health Underwriters, Davita, Farmer’s Insurance Group, Friends of Colorado Hospitals, Home Care PAC, Mednaz, The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Rx Plus Pharmacies Independent Providers Political Committee, and Walgreen Co PAC.
“When organizations mislabeled as “progressive” choose to support the status quo, choose moneyed influence over the lives of the 535 Coloradans who die each year because of lack of health care, it makes people angry,” Senator Aguilar said. “It makes me angry. People are angry because government is not addressing their needs, but the needs of corporations, whether it be the medical industrial complex, the oil and gas industry, or chambers of commerce.
“When Progress Now becomes a wing of the Chamber, they’ve lost their relevance. Colorado needs real progressive leadership that doesn’t take its marching orders from the establishment.”
Additional speakers at the press conference included Jeff Hart, a board member of CleanSlateNow.org and Common Cause Colorado, and Donna Smith, Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America.
“We have to change the system,” Smith said after outlining the escalating costs under the current corporate insurance industry and the savings Coloradans would experience when Amendment 69 passes. “For the first time in this nation’s history, a state finally has the chance to move [health care] forward in a good way.”