Colorado Community

Single-Payer Initiative Would Target Health Insurance Exchange

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
10/20/15  10:22 AM PST

By Joey Bunch for The Denver Post

Colorado voters could be asked to make a choice on next year’s ballot: Would you trust an elected state board to govern your medical needs more than private insurers and Obamacare?

Initiative 20 would unwind Connect for Health Colorado, the insurance exchange that complies with the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Instead of buying private insurance, Coloradans would pay another 10 percent in premium taxes to cover their medical care.

“The Affordable Care Act has made insurance available to more people, but we haven’t made a dent in the under-insured people who struggle to afford the deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses,” said Sen. Irene Aguilar, a Denver Democrat who is a medical doctor who tried and failed to set up a single-payer referendum during the 2013 legislative session.

Supporters of the single-payer plan have until Oct. 23 to collect the signatures of 98,492 registered voters to get Initiative 20 on the ballot.

Critics say the proposed $25 billion a year in premium taxes —roughly the size of the entire state budget — is an expensive gamble on something no other state has tried successfully.

“A lot of sweat and tears has been invested the last three years getting what we have, and we’re in support of that,” said Tammy Niederman, a Highlands Ranch insurance agency owner who serves as legislative chair for the Colorado State Association of Health Underwriters, referring to Connect for Health.

“I can’t imagine scrapping that and starting all over again with something that’s going to be this unknown … that’s a massive tax increase.”

Private insurers doubt the 10 percent premium tax is a reliable figure to cover the costs and that it could force locally elected ColoradoCare boards to raise premiums, she said, adding it would be costly and difficult to switch back to the old system if ColoradoCare failed.

Read the Full Article at The Denver Post.


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