Like many other states, Colorado’s Obamacare exchange has been plagued with problems since the get-go. Unrealistic expectations of the costs of government run health care, improper planning, and the absence of oversight over executives in charge of implementing the program has meant that Connect for Health Colorado is facing tough financial times.
But undeterred, Colorado lawmakers, appear to be ready to double down on their government run health care experiment and by doing so, will likely make the state’s financial problems even worse. How could it get worse you ask? By implementing a single-payer plan.
Through what is dubbed, “Initiative 20,” the state would dissolve Connect for Health Colorado and replace it with a single-payer system. As the Denver Post asks, “Would you trust an elected state board to govern your medical needs more than private insurers and Obamacare?” This in a state where the Obamacare co-op just canceled 80,000 plans. Thanks for asking Denver Post, but no, I wouldn’t.
But lawmakers like state Senator Irene Aguilar, a Democrat from Denver, thinks that even with all its failures Obamacare hasn’t gone far enough. She said, “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.”
How would Senator Aguilar and her supporters pay for such a plan? For starters, “Coloradans would pay another 10 percent in premium taxes to cover their medical care.” Colorado has already proved they’re incapable of estimating health care costs appropriately, and there’s no reason to expect that the 10 percent tax would be enough either. In fact, according to Tammy Niederman, a Highlands Ranch insurance agency owner, “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.”
Let’s get back to Senator Aguilar’s statement that this is supposed to help “people who struggle to afford the deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.” If the state begins by taking 10 percent of a Coloradans paycheck, does the Senator believe that losing 10 percent of your income every month is going to be a great cost savings for families struggling to pay for health care now? And let’s be honest, that 10 percent will be 11, then 12, then 15, maybe even 20 percent within a few years as lawmakers and bureaucrats realize they’re just not any good at this whole health care thing.
Kelly Sloan, a policy fellow at the conservative Centennial Institute, told the Denver Post, “Initiative 20 will exacerbate the problem that is driving up health care costs, which is the increase in demand caused by a disconnect between what health care costs and what most people actually pay, either because government (through Medicaid, etc.) or insurance pays most of the costs. A single-payer system only makes that situation worse.”
Earlier this year, Democrat Peter Shumlin, Vermont’s Governor, nixed a single-payer plan that would have cost the state at least $4.3 billion. Governor Shumlin has been a long-time proponent of single-payer. During the debate over instituting “Green Mountain Care,” Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador and two-term state senator, just how expensive paying for a plan like Shumlin’s could be.
“If you do it on the sales tax, it would require a sales tax of 30 percent. If you do it on the income tax, you would have the bottom rate be 15 percent and the top rate be 30 percent. That would make the top effective tax rate in the state of Vermont about 73 percent,” Galbraith told Vermont Watchdog.
Yes, you read that correctly, 73 percent. That was enough to kill Vermont’s single-payer proposal.
Hopefully, Coloradans that can do math and who want to avoid a similar hit to their bottom lines, will stop this plan that would undoubtedly cost more than estimated, provide worse health outcomes, and drive jobs out of the Centennial State.