Colorado voters have a chance to radically change the state’s healthcare system in November by replacing Obamacare with a tax-funded public health system that would provide coverage for everyone in the state. Last November, the estimated $38 billion proposal earned over 100,000 signatures — enough to have it placed on the ballot for this year.
The plan, called ColoradoCare, would allow patients to choose which doctors, hospitals, and specialists they wanted to use without having to find one that is “in” or “out” of their network. It would remove what it claims to be $4.5 billion in deductibles for individuals and businesses. Those on Medicare and federal health care for veterans would still be covered, while people who opt for private insurers could still choose to use them. The plan would also replace most workplace coverage plans.
ColoradoCare would cover primary, mental, dental, vision, and speciality care. Patients would be allowed to choose their doctor without incident.
There are a number of parallels between the proposed single-payer plan Bernie Sanders supports and the one that might be implemented in Colorado. Back in early March, Democrats in Colorado chose Sanders in the primary over Hillary Clinton. Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, has built part of his campaign around implementing a single-payer health care system. One of the larger criticisms against him and his plan is the tax increase that would happen in order to fund it. The same can be said for ColoradoCare.
As it stands, the plan would be funded through payroll taxes of 3.3 percent for workers, 6.7 percent for employers and 10 percent for self-employed individuals and small businesses. If it passes, Colorado’s taxes would be among the highest in the nation. Furthermore, the proposed plan would have a budget that exceeds the state’s entire budget. An elected board of 21 members would oversee the system’s benefits and budgets.
Opponents have already began a campaign against the proposal. Conservatives and insurance groups fear that it would cost the state far too much. Members of the medical community have also stepped forward in opposition of the bill. Perhaps the biggest irony is that longtime opponents of Obamacare now find themselves defending it against this more aggressive form.
“It would be a disastrous economic impact on the state,” said State Treasurer Walker Stapleton to the NY Times. “If you think legalized pot brought a lot of people to Colorado, you should try free health care.”
If voters support the bill and it passes in November, the system would not be implemented until 2019. To complicate matters, it would become a part of the state’s constitution, meaning it would be a uphill battle to remove it. Whoever appears to be poised to sit in the Oval Office come November could have a drastic effect on whether or not this bill passes.