hcbrenda.jpgDenver—If you thought Connecticut was alone in it’s struggle to implement universal health care reforms, think again. At a rally in Sunken Gardens Park Wednesday coinciding with the Democratic National Convention, Brenda VonStar (pictured), a nurse practitioner from Colorado, said her state failed to pass a single-payer health care system earlier this year because a commission appointed by the legislature to study the issue found that it would cost far too much to implement.

Sound familiar? It should.

In Connecticut a report by the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis in 2007 alleged that if the state paid for everyone under the age of 65 to have health insurance it would cost the state $18 billion.

The staggering pricetag had lawmakers pulling the plug on the proposal almost immediately despite efforts by advocates to counter with what they called a more accurate, modest figure. Like Colorado, Connecticut opted to go back to the drawing board and study the issue instead of pursuing a universal care plan.

Tom Swan, who chairs one of the committees studying the health care system in the Nutmeg state, said here Wednesday that Connecticut can help set the stage for national reform. He said he’s optimistic some comprehensive reforms will be considered under the state legislature’s new leadership, which includes State Rep. Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, and Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn.

Williams said electing Senator Barack Obama president will make all the difference in the world because comprehensive health care reform needs to happen at the national level. Last year, the General Assembly increased Medicaid reimbursement rates and approved $11 million for Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s new state subsidized insurance plan.

“The states may be the first place to establish a single-payer system,” but reform would come much more quickly if it was supported at the national level, VonStar, a member of HealthCareForAllColorado.org, said as she watched the crowd for Wednesday’s rally start to trickle into the park.

hcbus.jpgMembers of SEIU Wednesday agreed that universal health care is a national issue. The union’s “Road to Healthcare” bus has been visiting “battleground” states for the past four months, collecting stories about health care and talking about the differences between the two presidential candidates. 

Sara Howard, a spokeswoman for SEIU, said the union wants to make sure people know where the candidates stand on health care in states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and a handful of other states. Howard said the next stop for the bus is the Republican National Convention in Minnesota.

hcteri.jpgMeanwhile, at one of the other tents set up Wednesday for the health care rally, Teri Mills of Oregon talked about the campaign for an Office of the National Nurse. Mills said she would like to see the Chief Nurse Office of the U.S. Public Health Service be elevated to the level of Surgeon General. “We need a national nurse to inspire and engage nurses,” Mills said. She said nurses help promote prevention and elevating the Chief Nurse Officer won’t cost anything because the position already exists within the federal government.

“We need health care and what we have is sick care,” Mills said.