Jared Polis raised eyebrows a few days ago when he sought an Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – waver for one of Colorado’s most affluent counties. Polis helped write Obamacare and has consistently been one of its strongest advocates, having said he hoped it would one day lead to a single payer system. Summit County, the primary focus of Polis’ plea, is one of the most affluent and Democrat leaning counties in Colorado’s Second Congressional District, which the Boulder politician represents.
In a letter to Marguerite Salazar – Colorado’s Division of Insurance Commissioner – Polis described the impact of Obamacare on the residents of Summit County and similar areas. Part of the determination of an individual’s insurance premium is the rating area in which they live. Summit County’s high proportion of wealthy part-time residents distorts the data on the people living their full time, Polis said. This means that the county is rated as a more affluent area and therefore given high insurance premiums - $428/month with a comparable plan in Denver costing $296 – when residents are already struggling with a high cost of living. To compensate, he asked that the rating for Summit County be changed to that of Clear Creek and Jefferson.
Polis’ analysis was correct, and that’s the problem. Polis has spent the last four years refusing to listen to critics who pointed out similar ways that Obamacare would raise insurance premiums on vulnerable people nationwide and force them to drop their coverage. Now, when millions of people nationwide are facing lost coverage or crippling premiums, Polis has focused on helping part of his own base rather than the needs of the country as a whole.
Polis understands the effects of Obamacare on people in affluent Summit County, but similar stories are happening nationwide. Polis has adamantly rejected any attempt by the GOP to counter, alter or even delay Obamacare, all the while refusing to listen to what his opponents’ objectives actually were. In response to Ted Cruz’s Obamacare filibuster, for instance, Polis parodied Green Eggs and Ham rather than addressing any of the issues Cruz raised.
Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, moderates, members of all groups have been diligently drawing attention to the practical and ideological problems of Obamacare for years. Polis is only now – immediately after the program was implemented – addressing any real problems of Obamacare, and even now he is significantly limiting the scope of his criticism. This fact raises the question of why he would never so much as listen to the people saying this type of problem would occur before.