Rocky Mountain low: Only 27% support Colorado single-payer initiative

Colorado voters have an opportunity to replace ObamaCare with a state-run single-payer system in the upcoming election. Amendment 69 made the ballot, but according to a new poll from Magellan Strategies, it’s not going any further. Two-thirds of Colorado voters will oppose Amendment 69, and the gap has grown significantly larger over the past several months:

The survey finds strong opposition to Amendment 69, the ColoradoCare universal healthcare plan. Among all respondents, 27% would vote yes and approve the amendment, 65% would vote no and reject it, and 8% of voters are undecided. Intensity is very strong among voters that oppose the amendment, with 45% of respondents saying they definitely intend to vote no. Only 10% of respondents definitely intend to vote yes. Not surprisingly, support for Amendment 69 is strongest among Democrats and voters aged 18 to 34. However, slightly more Democrats oppose the amendment than support it, 45% to 41% respectively. Among all voters aged 18 to 34, 40% support it and 59% oppose it.

What’s the problem with it, other than common sense and experience with government-run health-insurance markets? For one thing, it comes with a price tag of a 10% increase in the state income tax:

Since our Amendment 69 survey in January, voter opposition has increased by 15 points from 50% to 65%. Support for the amendment has also declined 16 points, going from 43% to 27%. These findings are not that surprising considering Colorado’s history of rejecting large tax increases. We believe the amendment asks too much from Colorado voters by asking them to raise their state income tax by 10%. While the dream of universal healthcare may sound appealing to some Colorado voters, two thirds are unwilling to pay up for it.

That tax increase only provides a beginning to the pain ColoradoCare would cause. An independent analysis from the Colorado Health Institute concluded that even with that head start on draining taxpayers, the single-payer system would start off more than a quarter of a billion dollars in the red and get worse every succeeding year. As I noted in my column for The Fiscal Times last month, that would leave Colorado taxpayers with only three options to “fix” their single-payer system:

In a monopolistic government-run system, what options would Colorado residents have to fix these problems? CHI offers three ways to keep ColoradoCare from collapsing. The government-run system “could ask its members to approve tax increases,” (emphasis mine), which would erode buying power across the board and have a negative effect on the economy. Failing that, the government could choose to provide fewer benefits or stiff providers with lower payments.

These are precisely the options left when the government takes over a private-sector function. It operates from a scarcity model, choosing to ration and tax where a healthy market would provide opportunities for price signaling, competition, and increased production. None of the potential solutions to the fiscal crisis that would result from ColoradoCare add to the choices or options consumers would have in the market; it either restricts their buying power, their choices, or their providers. After all, how many doctors will choose to work and live in Colorado in a system where the government restricts what they can make from their work, and keeps reducing their pay?

Perhaps surprisingly, a majority in almost every demographic has this figured out. The only demo without a majority opposed to Amendment 69 is — definitely not surprisingly — Democrats, but a plurality of Democrats oppose the referendum. Even younger voters oppose it by a wide margin, 40/59, the only other demo where opposition falls below 60%. Bear in mind that Magellan used a likely-voter screen based on the 2012 election, in which Democrats performed rather well, but the results in these demos make that calculation almost superfluous.

Promoters of socialized medicine have much less time to recover than one would assume. Colorado offers voting by mail, and the ballots get mailed out on October 17th. Amendment 69 is barely on life support, and the plug will get pulled sooner rather than later.

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David Strom 4:01 PM on October 03, 2022