During the past 10 months that I have been drafting, driving, and upgrading an important, but disruptive, piece of healthcare, I have been greatly impressed with our state politicians. During the past year, I’ve gotten to see that attributes like thoughtfulness, altruism, and integrity are the norm—not the exception—for Colorado lawmakers. When I share that with people, it always seems to surprise them. But think about it. A state legislator earns $30K a year and isn’t given enough of a budget to keep a 22-year-old kid on the payroll year round. Why do they do it? Certainly not for the money. Power? They work incredibly long hours and have to deal with some pretty absurd things. It’s a fairly thankless job, and when you are one among one hundred, you don’t really have much power.
What has impressed me is our legislators’ desire to do the right thing. I haven’t run across anyone yet that is clearly acting on the behalf of special interests, as so many believe. And politicians clearly know when the special interests are feeding them self-serving messages. They listen—more than I would have the patience to listen—but they listen and then tune things out when appropriate.
Our non-partisan bill, HB18-1358, legislating broad-based, full healthcare price transparency, represents big change, for Colorado and for America. It will upset the status quo. At the same time, it enjoys strong bi-partisan support inside the Capitol and outside the building. And while there are many special interests voicing their opposition, there is no one representing the individual, unaffiliated voter—except for their elected officials. That’s what American is all about. That’s the nature of representative government. And that is what has impressed me the most. Legislators truly strive to represent the individual voter. The Capitol is open to anyone and your elected officials are very accessible. Yet private citizens are not roaming the capitol to talk to their legislators every day. Private citizens are out at work. They’re raising their kids. And for the most part, they don’t have time to compete with the lobbyists for whom whispering in the ears of politicians IS their work. The lobbyists are there, every day, working to shift political points of view away from the greater good and towards special interest groups with deep pockets.
So please, let your politicians hear from you (easy legislature lookup). We have let them know what you think, but it’s better that they hear it directly from you. I started this effort to ensure the real voice of real people wanting real change is heard, because there is no one standing up for the patient—no “special interest” group representing all of us who need healthcare during our lives. I also wanted to ensure real solutions were designed without the undue influence of special interests. The special interests have been heard and many have had good ideas, too. Those good ideas have been incorporated into our bill.
If you’ve never been to the Capitol, it’s a beautiful building and the staff is very helpful. Just ask for directions and you’ll easily find your state Representative and Senator’s office. Some are in buildings on either side of the Capitol. You can just walk into any of these buildings. And if they’re not there, bring a letter to slide under their door. Most have a staff member who will be there as well. Your representatives are thoughtful and they are listening, so let them hear from you.
The time to get loud is now. Please write. Please visit. And please show up for the hearing on Thursday the 26th, late afternoon. I’ll send more specifics as they become available. The legislature still has 200 bills to try to hear in the next two weeks, so their schedule is going to be in flux. And know this: your elected officials really are on your side. That’s what has been so refreshing. Tell them you know that, too! Tell them that you will support them in November (if they are up for reelection). Tell them you won’t let PACs sully what you think by outspending them 100 to 1. Encourage them to do what they believe is right. I believe that if they hear you, they will do just that.
Finally, to help ensure the pressure of the ballot remains real, and that we get this done through the ballot if the legislature fails, please contribute today. We are collecting signatures at a fast pace. They are costing about $1.50 per signature so please simply do the math and decide how many signatures you would like to fund. One for every member of your family? One for each of your employees? We’re having a feature added to the website so you can monitor the signature count in real time as well. I’ll let you know as soon as that is available.