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Gov. Jared Polis makes a point during a news conference in Denver on March 9, 2021. 

Critics say socialized medicine could lead to "rationing." The less filtered doomsayers, think former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, fear "death panels" would make life-and-death decisions in a system commanded by the government.

Anyone quick to dispense with these warnings should consider Colorado House Bill 1232, working its way through the legislature and set for a committee hearing on Wednesday.

HB-1232 is the "public option" for health care advocated by leading Democrats, including Gov. Jared Polis.

Socialized health care advocates who roll their eyes at warnings of "rationing" and "death panels" are technically correct. No one — even self-described socialists — wants a law establishing "rationing" or "death panels."

The words "rationing," and "death panel" are not found in House Bill 1232. Instead, we find euphemistic phrases about "race" demographics and pricing that mean the same thing.

The bill does nothing to establish or encourage more health care. This is a race-based redistribution bill and nothing more. It empowers an "authority" and "committee" to distribute care — a process that cannot avoid life-and-death decisions. Consider the carefully crafted wording:

"To improve racial health equity and decrease racial health disparities..."

To "reduce racial disparities in health outcomes..."

The bill contains more than a dozen uses of "race" "disparity," "equity," "ethnicity," "gender," "orientation," and "identity."

To decide who gets state care and who does not — to make life-and-death decisions — the law establishes the Colorado Option Authority (not a "death panel").

"Each healthcare provider shall accept patients who are enrolled in any Colorado option plan offered by the authority," the bill states. It forbids providers from charging fees exceeding what that state authority will pay.

The authority would demand providers serve select consumers beginning in 2023 at 10% less than the cost in 2021. It demands 20% less in 2024 for selected demographics. The authoritarian logic underlying this bill assumes the state may simply order services at an arbitrary price, without consequence, if done in the interest of "equity" — the left's new term for outcomes based on identity traits rather than personal actions.

The bill proposes reducing care for one party and providing it to another at a lower price. This is the essence of rationing by any definition.

If price-controls and rationing based on identity politics have virtue, the government should slash the cost of housing, food, and energy to create "equity" based on gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. Maybe we could have separate milk prices for white and Black consumers. Heck, they should reduce the price of smartphones so chosen demographics might achieve communication equity.

Oh, that's right. The government has tried command pricing only to learn such price reductions cause shortages in energy and housing. Authorities cannot force people to pull oil and gas from the ground at a loss, nor can they force property owners to rent or sell homes. They won't force all doctors, nurses, and health care investors to operate for insufficient compensation mandates that make politicians feel good. The government cannot force doctors and nurses to provide health care against their will and personal financial interests.

The health care bill's mandates are so ridiculous the legislature's attorneys wrote it to exempt the state from liabilities the law would create.

"The authority is an instrumentality of the state; except that the debts and liabilities of the authority do not constitute the debts and liability of the state, and the authority is not an agency of the state," the bill explains. It means politicians can pass this edict and walk away without a trace of responsibility.

To ensure the authority achieves "equity," the bill establishes an "advisory committee" (not a "death panel") to ensure the new system will "give special consideration to Coloradans with low income and to communities of color." To give this "special consideration" — with a law that does nothing to expand health care — the authority will prioritize people born into something other than "communities of color." Others might not get essential care.

If passed and signed into law, HB-1232 will distribute health care — with life-and-death consequences — by favoring and disfavoring people on a basis of their skin. Some will get care, others will not, as determined by the "authority." If this happens, just give thanks. At least it's not a "death panel."

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