2020 Leg Session, Columnists, Gold Dome, Governor Polis, Health Care, Jon Caldara, Politics, Transparency

Caldara: The column that got me fired from the Denver Post

(Editor’s note: As reported about in the Washington Times and Westword, the following is the column that, according to author Jon Caldara, led to him being fired by the Denver Post, where he has been a columnist since 2016.  You can read Caldara’s account of the matter here.)

Citizens want transparency in government. Special interests? Not so much.

Gov. Jared Polis was just on Colorado Public Radio promoting the next step on the road to government-run health care, his “public option” plan.

Making his case that private hospitals are “ripping off” Coloradans, he pointed to the sticker shock of hospital bills. “I’m sure if you’ve ever had an experience with a hospital, you know that they’re overcharging too because you’ve seen those bills. Even if your insurance pays for it, you’re like, thank goodness I have insurance.”

He failed to mention part of that hospital sticker shock is the hidden taxes the state puts on your hospital stay.

In 2009 the legislature passed a massive tax increase which would have surely died if brought to the people for a vote, ala our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. But by calling the hospital provider tax a “fee” they were able to place this ample tax on your hospital stay without your consent.

As if that wasn’t enough, they wrote the law so you’d get angry at the hospital instead of those elected officials who taxed you without asking first.

Get this, the law specifically forbids a hospital from listing this “fee” as a line item on your hospital bill.

So, they tax you without your permission and then make it look like the hospital is “ripping you off,” to use the governor’s words, by overcharging.

The hypocrisy is ripe given that Polis signed a “hospital transparency bill” last year touting hospitals should have to reveal the costs for their procedures.

The legislature could easily fix this and require hospitals to line item their tax on your bill. I haven’t heard a Democrat oppose the idea, but I haven’t seen a Democrat bill to fix it either.

Gossip is some Republican might try to do just that this year. If so, we’ll see if the Democrats in charge at the Capitol really want “hospital transparency” or if they just want to keep falsifying your hospital statements to fit their narrative.

Democrats don’t want transparency in hospital billing and they certainly don’t want education transparency when it comes to their mandate to convince your kid that there are more than two sexes, even if it’s against your wishes.

Among the most controversial laws that passed last year was the comprehensive human sexuality education mandate which ripped local control away from your neighborhood school board. Now if your school district wants to teach even basic sex ed, the teacher must also teach the “health needs” of LGBT individuals.

And in the anti-free-speech style that the left now embraces, the new law bans discussions that “employ gender stereotypes,” or any language the state’s new oversight board of LGBT activists consider “stigmatizing.” In case you hadn’t noticed, just about everything is stigmatizing to the easily triggered, perpetually offended.

The law actually makes for some pretty funny Orwellian reading. It says nothing in the law “shall be interpreted to prohibit discussion of health, moral, ethical, or religious values…” And then it goes on to proscribe exactly what must and cannot be said during those “discussions.”

It’s not a surprise that some parents might want to take their kids out of the “comprehensive human sexuality” session at school.

Some parents weren’t thrilled a couple of years back when during school their little ones in Boulder Valley School District were treated to videos staring a transgender teddy bear teaching the kids how to misuse pronouns or when Colorado’s “Trans Community Choir” sang to kids about a transgender raven.

What are the protections for a parent who feels transgender singing groups and teddy bears with gender dysphoria might be “stigmatizing” for their kid? How can a parent decide if she wants her kid in that class if the material isn’t transparent and easily accessible?

Enter Senate Bill 72 that was introduced by Sen. Bob Gardner this year. It’s a simple bit of transparency to help parents make an informed decision.

This bill doesn’t change any of the human sexuality re-education mandated last year, a half-dozen genders and all, it just requires the school district to send an email to parents notifying them when session is and requires the curriculum and lesson materials be put online for parents to examine before making a decision.

That’s it. Simple transparency to inform and empower parents.

Apparently this transparency is a threat to some powerful group’s agenda because the president of the senate, Leroy Garcia, has assigned the bill to the “kill” committee. That’s where he sends bills that are to have a quick and merciful death, guaranteeing that it will never get a full discussion on the floor of the senate.

Makes you wonder how proud the legislature is of their new progressive mandates if they have to keep them hidden in darkness from patients and parents.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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