Jared Polis

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, the Democratic candidate for governor, responds to a question in June during a televised debate in Denver.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis presented a “100-Day Roadmap” on health care Monday, laying out the quick steps he would take if elected governor.

“This plan is a roadmap for immediate action we can take to expand coverage, improve quality and, most of all, reduce costs — both for families and for small businesses,” Polis said in a press release after a press conference in Frisco.

His campaign said the ideas he’s picked up on the campaign trail are to reduce the cost of health care, make it more available and make it better.

“Coloradans are getting ripped off on health care, and it’s time for it to end,” Polis said. “We’re going to build a health care system where every Coloradan, no matter where they live in our great state, has access to affordable, high-quality care for themselves and their family.”

Polis supports a Medicare-for-all approach to health care, ensuring those who gained insurance under Obamacare keep it, while expanding transparency, availability and quality.

The campaign said Polis would get to work fast on:

  • Strengthening the Division of Insurance’s consumer watchdog role.
  • Proposing a statewide geographic rating and reconfiguration of rating zones for rural rate protection.
  • Establishing a state reinsurance program to reduce risk and costs for insurers.
  • Making hospital visits more affordable by increasing transparency on charges versus costs.
  • Reducing “price gouging” on prescription drugs.
  • Reducing bureaucratic waste and reforming the payment system.
  • Expanding mental health treatment.
  • Reducing delays in Medicaid reimbursements

Republicans have argued that Polis’s previous promises to expand health care would bust the state budget or simply prove unworkable. Stapleton’s campaign responded to Polis’s map Monday by calling it a thinly disguised single-payer, government-run system, adding that Polis “has never provided any details on how to actually pay for it.”

“While Congressman Polis touts his radical, government-run health care ‘plan’ on the campaign trail, Coloradans should know he has no idea how to pay for or implement it,” Stapleton spokesman Jerrod Dobkin said. “King Jared may think he can pull a fast one on voters, but it’s time Coloradans are introduced to the real Jared Polis: an above-average salesman with no ability to deliver on the empty promises he sells.”

Staging the press conference in the high country made sense. For one, mountain communities pay much higher insurance rates that metro Denver residents, based on how companies rate regions. Also, Polis has weathered criticism from Republicans who allege he doesn’t care about rural communities, despite his recent extensive campaigning there, mostly in small meet-and-greet gatherings.

Polis’ plan adds, “[I]t’s past time for Colorado to take immediate steps to address the unfair rural health care cost structure that has hurt so many families and individuals by pricing them out of quality health insurance and exacerbating a shortage of providers.”

“Our mountain communities are struggling to afford exorbitant health insurance premiums,” Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs, who has endorsed Polis, said in the press release. “Individuals are struggling, and small businesses are struggling — in part because premiums are based on closed-door negotiations between insurers and hospitals, and not on the actual cost of care.

“I’m so grateful that Jared and Dianne have taken the time to understand the unique challenges our mountain communities face when it comes to health care, and put forward real solutions to fix it.”

Gibbs is a former Democratic state legislator who was sized up as a potential candidate to fill the 2nd Congressional District seat last year when Polis vacated it after four terms to run for governor.

State Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, added: “Our next governor will have a key role in determining the future of Medicaid in our state. It’s important that Jared and Dianne have made this issue a key part of their health care platform. The next governor will be in charge of reforming this payment system to make sure we build in reliability, predictability and cost savings into Medicaid — a vital issue for rural hospitals and the families who depend on them. I’m grateful to Jared and Dianne for making this important priority for my constituents a priority.”

Donovan was considered a potential candidate in congressional districts 2 and 3 last yer, based on her Vail home or her Eagle County ranch. She decided instead to seek a second term in the state Senate.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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