State Sen. Don Coram, a veteran lawmaker with a reputation as a moderate Republican, is facing Democrat Guinn Unger, an active backer of the single-payer health care measure in the 2016 election in state Senate District 6.
Coram, who has been involved in ranching and mining most of his adult life, is proud to be an active legislator. He’s quick to note he sponsored 69 bills in the last session of the Colorado General Assembly – almost 10 percent of all bills.
Colorado Civil Rape Shield Law, House Bill 2018-1234, which gives victims of sexual assault similar protections in civil court proceedings that they now have in criminal proceedings, Coram, a Montrose Republican, said, was the bill he’s proudest of in the 2018 session. He sponsored the measure in the Senate along with state Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.
Unger, a Bayfield Democrat and a retired computer software developer and implementer, said Amendment 69, the single-payer health initiative, may have been soundly defeated in 2016 with almost 80 percent of the voters opposed, but he believes support is mounting nationwide for a Medicare-for-all model, and he expects it will soon be adopted at the federal level as Democrats gain the upper hand in Washington in the next four years.
He notes a recent Reuters national poll shows 70 percent of voters in favor of “Medicare for all” and that 52 percent of Republicans even favored it. He said he is not against the state taking action on a single-payer health care model because he expects it will soon be adopted nationwide as it gains popularity.
“I’m a progressive in the best sense of the word,” said Unger, who serves on the La Plata Electric Association Board of Directors. “As an engineer, you can’t do anything without first understanding the problem you have to solve.”
To-do listIf elected to Senate District 6, which covers Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, Ouray, San Juan and San Miguel counties, Coram’s top-five priorities would be:
Find funding for ideas identified in the Colorado Water Plan, which stems from his predecessor, Ellen Roberts, who championed an effort to examine water policy in nine river sub-basins in Colorado and bring stakeholders together to identify best practices to guide policy. Push for measures that increase school security. Push for measures that improve security on the electrical power grid to harden it against terrorist attacks. Push for measures that improve mental health and suicide-prevention efforts in Colorado.Push for measures that help Coloradans caught in the opioid crisis.Unger’s top-five priorities in the Statehouse would be:
Work for passage of a bill that would lower health insurance premium differentials between the Western Slope and the Front Range.Find a way to increase funding for teacher pay. Build incentives in law to move to renewable energy. Raise the state minimum wage to around $15 an hour. Fund programs to help victims of sexual assault. Reader-asked questionsThe Durango Herald asked readers what questions they’d like candidates to address. A reader asked Coram and Unger how they would work to lower increasingly unaffordable health insurance policies on the Western Slope.
Coram suggests increasing the size of health insurance pools
He suggests allowing trade associations and small businesses in the same industry to pool together in an effort to attract better health insurance rates for their employees by creating bigger pools.
Unger said he favors establishing only one statewide cost-structure rate in setting premium costs.
Establishing one rate for medical costs statewide would generate lower costs for insurance in the Western Slope, while only more modestly increasing costs on the Front Range, he said.
Campaign financeAccording to campaign-finance reports filed with the Colorado secretary of state, Coram has $9,542 cash on hand as of Sept. 26. For the campaign, he has received $32,099 in contributions and has spent $22,556.
During the reporting period from Sept. 13 to Sept. 26, two donors tied for top contribution of $1,000, the Montrose County Republican Central Committee and the Colorado Chiropractic Association’s small-donor committee.
Unger has $2,145 cash on hand as of Sept. 26. For the campaign, he has received $23,700 in contributions and he has spent $21,555. Unger’s top donor for the campaign reporting period, covering Sept. 13 to Sept. 26, comes from the La Plata County Democratic Central Committee, which donated $1,000 – bringing its total donations to Unger to $3,firstname.lastname@example.org