Over the past year, I've visited all 64 counties in our state and had conversations with thousands of Coloradans. That's how I know Coloradans want a meaningful departure from the status quo on health care -- I've heard their stories.
Regardless of the county they live in or the cable news channel they watch, Coloradans are tired of the enormous instability and uncertainty that our current system brings to their lives.
Families and small businesses in Colorado can't survive another decade in which health care costs rise by 97%, as they did over the last decade. Add to this the fact that median family income in Colorado has actually declined over the last decade -- a shocking statistic -- and it's no wonder that our middle class families are struggling.
Last month, I made the case that we have an urgent moral obligation to change the health care system in this country so that every American has access to affordable, quality health care.
I also said then -- as I had many times before -- that a public option would give Colorado families a valuable choice when choosing health insurance. I still support a public option, because working people across the state have told me their stories about paying insurance premiums year after year, only to find that the insurance company isn't there when they need it most.
Anyone who says they are serious about curbing our runaway federal deficit needs to be serious about health care reform. Reforming our health care system is the fiscally responsible thing to do because Medicare and Medicaid are two of the biggest drivers of our federal deficit, and runaway health care costs make these programs more expensive every year.
This is why reforming health care and controlling costs matters to all 300 million Americans, not just the 47 million Americans without health insurance.
If we don't control these costs, if we don't stop these costs from growing our debt, then it won't be us paying the consequences, it will be our kids and grandkids. As a father of three young daughters -- ages 10, 8, and 5 -- I think this is unacceptable.
The fight to change our broken health care system hasn't been easy. Nonetheless, I am extremely optimistic we will get health care reform done this year -- and that it will be a meaningful departure from the status quo.
I am encouraged by the more than 3,000 people who have signed our petition fighting for health care reform. This groundswell of grassroots support is evidence that Coloradans want health care reform, and they want it now.
The opponents of change need to understand that too many Colorado families are being left behind by our current system. If we work together, we can bring the change that Coloradans need.