A leading liberal political organization has joined the fight to stop Coloradans from passing a state-run universal health care plan this November.
“It breaks my heart. I would love to support single payer healthcare,” Progress Now Executive Director Ian Silverii told 9NEWS. “But you get details wrong, [and] people get hurt.”
Silverii also contributes to 9NEWS as an on-air political expert.
Amendment 69 would replace most private health insurance with a single insurer, ColoradoCare. The program would raise money through payroll taxes, copayments for services and payments from the state and federal governments.
“It’s really concerning to our campaign to see [Progress Now] just doubling down on the talking points of the far right and walking lock step with the Koch Brothers,” ColoradoCareYes spokesman Owen Perkins said. “It’s certainly distressing and mystifying.”
What bothers Progress Now about the constitutional amendment is that it’s a constitutional amendment.
The process of changing Colorado’s constitution makes it difficult to tweak key funding sources like the payroll tax, which would replace traditional healthcare premiums, if the need arises.
Tax increases are subject to voter approval in Colorado.
And Silverii said that’s probable given the recent Colorado Health Institute study that projects a $7.8 billion deficit by 2028.
“The State of Colorado is not allowed to run deficits … ,” Silverii said. “We’ll have to cut something to pay for that.”
The third detail that troubles Progress Now about ColoradoCare’s proposal is its plan to create a board by electing 21 people from around the state.
“These people don’t have to have any kind of expertise in health care or risk assessment or actuarial,” Silverii said. “And they can make decisions about the care plan that every Coloradan uses.”
A person who wants to be a board member would have to meet the same requirements that Colorado sets for any elected office, Perkins said.
And unlike private insurance company boards, the ColoradoCare board would hold public meetings.
“[Private insurers] are not answerable to our communities,” Perkins said. “We have absolutely no control.”
Silverii and Progress Now aren’t the only Democrats to oppose the health care initiative. In April, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) came out against the proposal, saying it was “too early” to diverge from the Affordable Care Act.
Bennet is standing for re-election this year.
“The details of policy matter so much … ,” Silverii said. “It’s not as simple as saying universal healthcare for everyone.”