Governor Bill Ritter has signed an order that officially begins the implementation of President Barack Obama’s controversial health-care reform despite a Republican challenge that’s wending its way through the courts.

Speaking at the busy Denver Health pharmacy yesterday, Ritter said the state has made great strides on improving health care alone, but national reforms are also needed.

“What we know about Colorado is we’re better positioned than most states to make the most of national reform, because we did not wait for Washington, D.C. to pass reform,” he said, after signing several state bills that aim to make it easier for consumers to navigate insurance (via KUNC radio).

Ritter predicts the bills will cause premiums to drop as much as 15 percent in Colorado.

The signing seems to leave Congresswoman Betsy Markey (pictured) once again on the defensive, explaining her change of mind regarding the health-care vote. If special deals for states like Nebraska weren’t removed, she wouldn’t have voted for it, Markey told a town hall meeting yesterday (via The Associated Press).

Markey, a Democrat in a recently turned swing district, will get some help from Vice President Joe Biden, who will headline an April 30 fundraiser for Markey at a Denver hotel, open only to donors willing to shell out at least $150 per ticket, the AP reports in a separate story.

Back in 2008, then-Vice President Dick Cheney stumped for then-Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, the Republican who lost to Markey a few months later.