Health Insurance Info for Colorado

news & commentary on health insurance and benefits

Budget on Health Care: Still Expanding

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“Despite the current health care spending crisis, President Obama’s budget does little to significantly reform the existing entitlements (Medicare and Medicaid) and maintains the implementation of Obamacare—which creates two new entitlements and adds more than $1.8 trillion in new spending by 2023.” -Heritage Foundation, The Foundry

The biggest news in this article is the continued war on seniors which isn’t being discussed in any detail by the mainstream media. With newly-proposed drug “rebates” (a hidden tax paid by Medicare enrollees) and a new Part B surcharge equivalent to 15% of the average Medigap premium, seniors will be disproportionally impacted – just as the Obama administration is gutting the Medicare Advantage program, forcing many seniors back into Original Medicare. So much for choice!

Enter the Colorado Single-Payor Amendment


Senate Concurrent Resolution 13-002, a measure introduced by Sen. (Dr.) Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, will create a single-payer, government-run health care system in Colorado via the amendment process. Run by a health care “board”, the legislation, if allowed to become law as a constitutional amendment to the Colorado Constitution, would impose a capitated, single-payor health care system in Colorado. By capitated, we mean capping health care expenditures, and reducing, eliminating, or forgoing costs of care: in essence, rationing.

The measure builds on a bill, first proposed, and then shelved, by the Democrats in the run-up to Obamacare. The bill establishes a so-called non-governmental health care authority that on the surface is not part of the Colorado state government, but is in fact controlled by the political structure and funded by payroll tax dollars, estimated to cost around $16 billion yearly once the system is in effect.

The measure, 19 pages long, would provide the authority to seek waivers from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and would replace it for all Colorado residents. According to a press release from Co-Operate Colorado, a single-issue advocacy group that appears to work closely with Sen. Aguilar on health care issues, the cooperative would “offer comprehensive and accessible health care, including dental, vision, and mental health services”.

The resolution prominently includes ACOs – Accountable Care Organizations – which are set up strictly as non-profit organizations and are viewed as a threat to the current system of reimbursement and private practice through independent physicians. The Obama Administration has aggressively pushed ACOs, even as reports mount that ACOs will be unable to provide the same quality of care as our current health care delivery system, or even deliver the savings they have promised.

For funding, the resolution imposes a 6 percent payroll tax increase on every business in the state; 3 percent payroll tax on every worker in the state;  9 percent payroll tax on every self-employed worker in the state. This would be on top of the $1 billion tax hike approved by the Democrat-controlled legislature but not yet approved by voters. [UPDATE: the tax hike was overwhelmingly defeated by Colorado voters in the fall of 2130 – ed.]

The article states that “nothing … prohibits private health insurers from conducting business in Colorado”. However, the tax burden imposed on Colorado residents, since it is a mandatory tax on payroll or self employment earnings, tilt the playing field so far in favor of the state cooperative that the private health insurance market would become unsustainable and economically impossible. Exit from the state insurance market would be swift.

The Colorado model appears to be based on the single-payor system enacted by Vermont, which had to quickly back-pedal in the face of rising costs and other issues. The fact remains that Colorado,  like Vermont, will face dozens of anti-market price controls and policy decisions which will impact the state, especially in the rural areas.

The resolution for the amendment to the Colorado State Constitution, known as the Health Care Cooperative, has been introduced in the Senate chamber, but has not yet been voted on.

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