Q&A with Colorado Representative Dylan Roberts
Representative Dylan Roberts is a second-year State Legislator representing Eagle and Routt counties. He was sworn into the legislature in November 2017 and was re-elected to a two-year term during the recent November election cycle. Rep. Roberts serves as Chair of the House Rural Affairs Committee, Chair of the Capital Development Committee, and as a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Roberts is the Deputy District Attorney of Eagle County, and is a native of Colorado.
In this Q & A, Rep. Roberts speaks to several healthcare bills he has sponsored this session, and to the progress that Colorado has made in healthcare overall.
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EV: You have seem to have taken a special interest on healthcare this legislative session. Was this a cognizant decision heading into the session?
Yeah, I definitely came into the session knowing that [healthcare] is what I wanted to focus on, for two major reasons. One, healthcare policy and advancing healthcare access is a personal interest of mine, but also it is the most important issue in my district. So, after campaigning last year for re-election, knocking on thousands of doors, that was definitely the number one thing that came up when talking with my constituents was the cost of health insurance, access the health insurance. So, I knew as a Representative of my district it was something that I had to work on as well.
EV: Would you say that representing a rural district in Colorado has shaped some of your legislature this session?
Yeah, so the issue that I have is the district that I represent, Eagle county and Routt county, and Eagle county is the most expensive county for health insurance, not only in Colorado, but in the whole country. That is what I was hearing from my constituents, and Routt county is not far behind. I was hearing that my constituents are really struggling to pay their monthly premiums, there is no competition in these counties, they are forced to either choose the really expensive option or go without insurance. This is why I wanted to focus on issues that would lower prices, and increased competition.
EV: In addressing the high cost of medicine and insurance, is data transparency something that you are looking into as well?
Yeah, I supported House Bill 1001, the Hospital Transparency Measure, that was not my bill but I was really excited to see that pass and get signed into law. I think that is one of the big things we need to take a look at–what is driving these high costs, and I think a lot of it comes from the hospitals and trying to figure out what they are charging for things compared to what it actually costs. And then there is drug price transparency measures that I have been supportive of and have worked on in the past, so there are some things that we have moved forward with that I think will immediately improve prices, and there are also things we have moved forward with that will help us to get a lot of data to help inform legislation in the coming years.
EV: You have moved several healthcare related bills forward this session. Do you have a bill that you feel is most impactful both to your district and to Coloradans overall?
Yeah, it would definitely have to be HB 1004. That was the bill that just got sent to the Governor’s desk last week, to set in place the process for creating a public option for health insurance and so hopefully if all goes according to plan in that bill, people will have the option to purchase a public health insurance plan next fall when they are buying their health insurance, and that goes back to the issue of limited competition. We will be adding an option that can compete with the private option and hopefully lower the price of all the options in that area.
EV: Do you have any plans for the interim, any committees you are serving on? Any healthcare related bills you have in the works for next session?
Yeah, I don’t know about interim committees quite yet. I serve on two interim committees already that are not healthcare related, so I do not know if I will specifically get put on one. But, I will definitely continue to work on the issues of healthcare access and lowering healthcare premiums and also prescription drugs. Another one of the bills that I sponsored, and that has passed, is the insulin bill. That is the one that will immediately lower the price of insulin by putting a $100 co-pay cap in place. The second part of the bill, directs the attorney general to investigate insulin pricing and drug pricing in Colorado and send a report back to the legislature next year, so I will of course be waiting anxiously for that report and their legal recommendations on what we should do next. I am looking forward to getting data from that bill, and also from the other transparency bills to see what we should continue to do next year.
EV: Is there anything you would like to add, or anything else you would like to speak with me about related to healthcare bills, or the legislative session in general?
I am really excited, we have heard a lot of non-healthcare related bills this session, that have made the news and sort of dominated the news cycles, but healthcare bills are the ones that are actually passing all the way through. Almost every healthcare bill is bipartisan, and I think when we look back on this session, once all the bills are signed and everything, I think 2019 will be the most historic and transformative session in recent Colorado history in terms of healthcare reform, and increasing access to healthcare. So, putting all the bills together and looking at this collective package it is going to be a really exciting time in Colorado for taking a proactive lead to lower healthcare prices.
EV: I heard that nearly one-third of all the 600 bills introduced this session are related to healthcare. Is that true?
Yeah, that would not surprise me. A lot of these bills are just flying under the radar because they are not the topics that make the nightly news, but those are the ones that are probably going to make the biggest difference in people’s lives.
This Q&A was edited for clarity.