Single payer health care move in Colorado

I am a strong advocate of a government-funded single payer health care, along the lines of the ‘Medicare for all’ plan proposed by Bernie Sanders. Colorado is putting such a plan on the ballot for November. It is called Amendment 69 and the parasitic health insurance industry backed by oligarchs like the Koch brothers has gone all out to try and get people to vote it down.

The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, a national trade group, is mobilizing its member companies to defeat single payer in Colorado. “The council urges Coloradans to protect employer-provided insurance and oppose Proposition 69,” the CIAB warns. The group dispatched Steptoe & Johnson, a lobbying firm it retains, to analyze the bill.
Lobby groups that represent major for-profit health care interests in Colorado, including hospitals and insurance brokers, are similarly mobilizing against Amendment 69. The Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry — a trade group led in part by HCA HealthOne, a subsidiary of HCA, one of the largest private hospital chains in the country — is soliciting funds to defeat single payer. The business coalition to defeat the measure also includes the state’s largest association of health insurance brokers.

These plans will result in increased direct taxes that will be more than compensated for by reduced costs and out-of-pocket expenses for individuals.

The proposal calls for the Colorado legislature to pass new laws raising $25 billion a year from a mix of employer payroll taxes, a 3 percent tax on employee gross pay, and a new tax on self-employed net income. The money would be used for a new health care system that would cover all premiums and out-of-pocket costs for health and dental care. The state would also be charged with negotiating with providers and for better drug prices. Supporters of the plan say the system would save $4.5 billion a year.

Lee Fang provides further information on the groups opposing the single payer initiative, that include many with Democratic ties.

The filing reveals that the anti-single-payer group has retained the services of Global Strategy Group, a Democratic consulting firm that has served a variety of congressional candidates and is currently advising Priorities USA Action, the Super PAC backing Clinton’s bid for the presidency.

A number of other Democratic firms have signed up to help defeat single payer, too. Hilltop Public Solutions, a firm managed by former campaign staffers to Barack Obama, was paid $45,000 by the group. Hilltop has also provided consulting services to Ready PAC, another Clinton-supporting Super PAC that eventually folded into the Clinton campaign.

Opponents of Sanders’s plans (and that includes Hillary Clinton) focus on the increased taxes while downplaying the fact that there is a net benefit to the individual citizen. A good place to get news and information on the single payer system is the website of the Physician for a National Health Program.

Seth Meyers explains what the Colorado ballot issue is all about.


  1. David Hinkle says

    Happy to hear about the Colorado efforts but remain skeptical. The governor of Vermont ran on a platform of single payer then abandoned it as soon as he was elected. The insurance lobby is very well funded and entrenched. State and local efforts are more likely to be successful than national ones.

  2. lorn says

    I don’t know. I like the single-payer system but this does by design replace the ACA with a system which may, or may not , be 1) better ; or 2) a system simply used as a placeholder and a back door way of getting rid of the ACA. The ACA is not perfect but tossing it out too quickly for lip service that this may be the long sought after effective, well funded, and permanent single payer system seems unwise. I would want to see far more details and have a funding stream locked into place before committing.

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