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Vote no on sugary beverage tax

As a CU student, I am very concerned with the proposed beverage and grocery tax that will be on the ballot this November. Measure 2H is an unnecessary money siphon with little underlying purpose.

I made the decision to live in one of the healthiest communities in the nation. I chose a community centered around my desired lifestyle. In the form of a tax, 2H will steal money from our local community in an attempt to reduce my ability to make my own decisions. Taxes don’t fight obesity; healthy lifestyle choices do. As citizens, our choices should not be influenced and decided by a tax. As a community, we should put our tax money towards issues that actually matter, not toward an attempt to diminish our innate ability to make our own healthy lifestyle choices.

The primary proponent of 2H, Healthier Colorado, does not represent Boulder. Healthier Colorado has received almost three quarters of a million dollars funding to push this tax onto our community. It is not clear where this money is funneling from, and to the consumer’s detriment may hold ulterior motives.

Measure 2H is a restrictive and unnecessary attempt to fix a Boulder lifestyle that is not broken. Along with many other students of the Boulder community, I pledge to vote no on measure 2H.

David Kidd, Boulder

Insurers, not ColoradoCare, too big for our own good

You’ve seen the countless ads on TV, sponsored by Coloradans for Coloradans. This is the opening line, “Sometimes, too big can be bad.” I agree. I invite you to think about who is too big.

Is it ColoradoCare? Or is it an insurance company (Anthem, valued at $27 billion) and their pharmacy benefits manager (Express Scripts, valued at $59 billion) who continually, year after year, shift more and more costs to customers while making it harder every year to access care and prescription medication?

My son Michael is a liver transplant recipient. He takes anti-rejection medication that is expensive, about $600 per month, retail. Yes, it’s generic. He takes another anti-rejection medication that costs about $20 per month. Any pharmacy in the state of Colorado could fill these prescriptions with a few days’ notice. Yet Express Scripts declares that the expensive medication must be obtained from a specialty pharmacy in the state of Rhode Island. Their specialty seems to be the worst customer service in the history of the profession of pharmacy.

Michael has spent hours and hours and hours on the phone trying to understand and fulfill their requirements for a prior authorization for his anti-rejection medication that he has taken for nearly 10 years and will need to take for the rest of his life. Not surprisingly, it’s only the expensive medication that requires a prior authorization and procurement through a specialty pharmacy. His copays go up every year. Suddenly this year, he only gets a 30-day supply, so he pays the copays monthly, not every three months as in the past. Early this year, the copay was $80 per month for his expensive medication. Suddenly in August, the copay became $500 per month. We don’t really know why, and neither do the pharmacists at the specialty pharmacy.

Michael got them to admit it was a mistake in Aug, but they charged the same $500 again in September. So apparently he’ll have to spend hours on the phone each month to get them to charge the correct copay. Or not. Maybe he’ll just have to pay $500 each month going forward. He would have a rejection episode if he stopped taking his medication. At best, he’d land in the hospital, which would cost many thousands of dollars. At worst, he’d die. Who knows what he will have to pay next year? We know his insurance premiums will go up about 25 percent, but we don’t know what his deductible will be nor his prescription copays.

Michael can’t understand why his insurance company makes it harder and harder each year to get his prescriptions filled. As a retired pharmacist, I understand very well. Insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers have been shifting more and more costs to their customers for over 30 years. It gets worse and worse every year. I explained to Michael that there are two reasons for these immoral business practices, which ought to be illegal. The first reason is that they know that as customers must pay more and more for their medications and the process for filling prescriptions in network (i.e. mail order) becomes more and more onerous, people will give up and just go to their neighborhood out-of-network pharmacy to fill prescriptions and pay full price out of pocket. The second reason is that they are trying to drive him away. They hope he will get fed up with Anthem and search for a different insurance company, hoping for better coverage and service elsewhere. They don’t want him for a customer. However, Michael has learned that the pharmacy benefit managers like Express Scripts who command huge market share across the country are racing to the bottom together to provide the same inadequate coverage and terrible service to customers like Michael who have the bad manners to actually need health care and medication.

So you tell me, who is too big? Is it ColoradoCare, which will have the ability to shift away from perverse incentives that result in inadequate coverage and terrible service? Or is it Anthem (CEO compensation in 2015 was $13.6 million) and Express Scripts (CEO compensation in 2015 was $14.8 million)? Is it ColoradoCare that is too big, or is it Anthem, which has donated $1 million to defeating ColoradoCare?

Virginia Gebhart, Boulder

Path is clear for Sanders supporters

As a Sanders supporter, contributor, and voter, I realize that it is important to face some fundamental facts: Either Clinton or Trump will be the next president. And for Sanders supporters, the most productive way to achieve our goals is to vote, and to vote for Clinton.

It might be tempting to vote for someone other than these two candidates or to sit out the election. The trouble is that not voting for Clinton will make it virtually impossible to achieve the progressive goals we share, especially if the Republicans retain control of both houses of Congress.

Try to imagine the degree to which a Trump presidency would negate progress in the following areas: immigration reform and the humane treatment of immigrants; reduced economic inequality; respect for human and civil rights; better race relations; constitutional guarantees; religious tolerance and freedom; sentencing reforms; protecting the environment and addressing climate change; workplace safety and consumer protection; college tuition subsidies and student loan reforms; reproductive freedom for women; expanded access to health care; and campaign finance reform. These are all positions that progressives support, and anyone other than Clinton win will doom the chances for moving forward in these vital areas — not just for four years but, conceivably, for eight. And this is before we even consider the question of Supreme Court appointments.

The path forward should be clear. Who the better candidate is in this election is also clear.

Alan Posner, East Lansing, Mich.

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