Opinion

Coloradans have shown they can answer the call to compromise

Author: Kent Thiry - January 30, 2018 - Updated: January 30, 2018

Kent-Thiry-headshot.jpeg
Kent Thiry

If you turn on cable news or open your social media feed, you’re likely not to see much to cheer about. Our national politics have been consumed by division and conflict. While that’s true, it is also not the whole story. Despite our divisions, here in Colorado there have been times of compromise and progress worth cheering.

During last year’s legislative session, lawmakers from both parties came together to craft two bipartisan compromises.  Republicans and Democrats passed a reform to the Hospital Provider Fee, ensuring that upwards of a dozen rural hospitals remain open, and equalized funding for public charter schools, giving parents the assurance that no matter what type of public school their child attended they would have equal access to resources. While I have reservations regarding the hospital fee, I applaud the legislature’s substantive compromise to pass it.

These historic compromises were not accomplished easily, as entrenched interests opposed to the solutions fought hard to shut the deals down. Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Democratic Sen. Dominick Moreno stood strong and proved that bipartisan leadership makes our state stronger.

In Colorado, we value cooperation. We value problem solving. We value progress.

That recognition of the value of working together to move the state and country forward is also evident in Colorado’s congressional delegation.

Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, Colorado’s Democratic and Republican U.S. senators respectively, have made serious efforts to join together to craft smart public policy rather than simply looking to score cheap political points.

They stood shoulder to shoulder fighting for a solution to allow DREAMers to stay in this country. They spent time touring the Eastern Plains and farming communities to better understand their needs. They even joined together to author legislation to force Senators to stay on the job until a deal is cut during government shutdowns.

That spirit of cooperation was on display again late last year when Senator Bennet became a champion of a bill known as the PATIENTS Act, which will give dialysis patients across the country access to integrated care. And literally the next day Gardner added his support. Since that time five Colorado members of the House of Representatives have signed on too — Democrats DeGette, Perlmutter and Polis, and Republicans Buck, Tipton, and Coffman.

DaVita, the company I work for, is proud to be part of the kidney care community that supports this integrated care legislation that Congress has crafted over the past three years, executing a legislative process worthy of highly unusual bipartisan support – with 146 sponsors in Congress, almost exactly half and half Democrat to Republican.

The PATIENTS Act is a small start to fixing a big problem. It will change the way our health care system serves patients with kidney failure by allowing their doctors and dialysis providers to work more closely together to coordinate and deliver their care.

And this spirit of cooperation and problem solving goes beyond just the actions of policymakers who represent us at the state and federal level. It’s part of Colorado’s DNA. Last year every living Colorado governor, both Republican and Democrat, backed the Raise the Bar constitutional reform effort which sought to make it harder to alter our state’s constitution.  These are names you know – Democrats Hickenlooper, Romer, Lamm and Republican Owens.

Colorado is a model to the nation in many ways – we have the best mountains, the best beer, and we also have demonstrated the value of bipartisanship in our political discourse and representation. Congress faces a mountain of complex and complicated subjects, from immigration to health care and tax policy. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that there is plenty for us to agree on.

Kent Thiry

Kent Thiry

Kent Thiry is chairman and CEO of DaVita.