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Truth Test: Ad says Polis would turn Colorado into California with healthcare policy

There is another political ad calling out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis and suggesting he's trying to turn Colorado into California: "RadiCalifornia." But is this an ad about Polis' gubernatorial campaign or his job as a Congressman?

RadiCalifornia is back.

There is another political ad calling out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis and suggesting he's trying to turn Colorado into California: "RadiCalifornia."

The ad ends with a suggestion to call Polis at his Washington, D.C. Congressional office. So, is this an ad about Polis' gubernatorial campaign or his job as a Congressman?

The ad is paid for by State Solutions, Inc., which is a non-profit issue-advocacy group connected with the Republican Governors Association. The RGA produced the previous "RadiCalifornia" scrabble ad.

Truth Test: Scrabble ad attacking Polis scores few points

CLAIM: California has the surf, the beach, the nightlife, the Golden Gate, but California also has high taxes, crazy regulations that destroy jobs and radical ideas like single-payer health care."

VERDICT: It's true California has the surf, it kind of comes with the beach. The nightlife is up to your own interpretation. It's irrefutable that California also has the Golden Gate Bridge. Now about the rest. Only "high taxes" is measurable, and that depends on many factors. Taxes are based on income level, city, county and special district taxes, as well as property values. To make a comparison would require very specific examples that could vary for any number of reasons. The other claims are opinion.

However, California also has a gubernatorial candidate supportive of single-payer health care. Democratic candidate Gavin Newsom has campaigned on a single-payer health care system for the state of California.

CLAIM: "And radical ideas like single-payer health care. That's why they call it RadiCalifornia. Jared Polis wants the same thing."

VERDICT: This is TRUE. Polis is supportive of single-payer health care. Calling it radical is opinion.

The ad references a bill introduced in the House in January 2017. H.R. 676 is "Medicare for All." (LINK: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hr676/BILLS-115hr676ih.pdf). It essentially creates a free health care system for all U.S. citizens. Polis signed on as a cosponsor of the bill in April 2017, at the same time as fellow Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter and just after Rep. Diana DeGette. No Republicans have put their name on this legislation that hasn't progressed through the House yet.

The bill would provide free health care, with no co-pays, for the following services:

  • Primary care and prevention.
  • Approved dietary and nutritional therapies.
  • Inpatient care.
  • Outpatient care.
  • Emergency care.
  • Prescription drugs.
  • Durable medical equipment.
  • Long-term care.
  • Palliative care.
  • Mental health services.
  • The full scope of dental services, services, including periodontics, oral surgery, and endodontics, but not including cosmetic dentistry.
  • Substance abuse treatment services.
  • Chiropractic services, not including electrical stimulation.
  • Basic vision care and vision correction (other than laser vision correction for cosmetic purposes).
  • Hearing services, including coverage of hearing aids.
  • Podiatric care.

On Polis' campaign website, he writes about his support of Medicare for All.

"Keeping up the fight for universal coverage will take tremendous advocacy and effort from our next governor. Should I have the honor of serving Colorado in that capacity, I will build upon Governor Hickenlooper’s work in advocating for comprehensive health care solutions at the regional and federal level and will fight for Medicare for All as the best solution to our rising health care costs. It’s the option that works for patients and providers, reduces costs, and improves the delivery of care."

He also writes about supporting a localized single-payer system with multiple states in the western U.S.

"I will work to develop partnerships with other western states to pioneer a groundbreaking regional multi-state consortium to offer a common-payer system in the West to reduce prices, expand coverage, and improve the quality of care."

CLAIM: Independent experts say a government takeover of health care could cost $32 trillion.

VERDICT: True, but the report did not study the bill Polis is cosponsoring.

The ad cites an Associated Press article from July 30, 2018. The article is about a study done by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University that found it would cost the government $32.6 trillion over 10 years to implement a single-payer health care system. The study supports the findings of a 2016 report by the Urban Institute that came to similar conclusions.

The Mercatus Center report also determined that personal spending on health care would decrease $10 billion. It also found that the bill would lower prescription drug costs by $61 billion.

The report studied Senate Bill 1804, sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and not H.R. 676, which Polis cosponsors. The two pieces of legislation both deal with single-payer health care, but do not contain identical details.

CLAIM: And would more than double what you pay in federal income taxes each year.


The Mercatus Center study determined that "doubling all currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan." That's not good news, but it's also not suggesting consumers would have to pay twice what they do in federal income taxes. In fact, all that report says is that doubling those income taxes wouldn't cover the cost of the plan.

How a single-payer health care system is paid for is just one of the reasons it hasn't progressed through the legislative process. The bill co-sponsored by Polis suggests funding a single-payer system through the following sources:

  • Existing sources of Federal Government revenues for health care.
  • Increasing personal income taxes on the top 5 percent income earners.
  • Instituting a modest and progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income.
  • Instituting a modest tax on unearned income.
  • Instituting a small tax on stock and bond transactions.

BOTTOM LINE: While it's not clear if this ad is attacking Polis the Congressman or Polis the gubernatorial candidate, it has more substance than the previous RGA scrabble "RadiCalifornia" ad. Polis is supportive of a single-payer health care system for all citizens. He is also supportive of a regional system if multiple states are involved. Would it cost more in taxes? Yes. The bill he cosponsors says it will. Will it double our federal income taxes? There is not proof of that, yet.

*Editor's Note: This is the second negative Polis ad put to the Truth Test by 9NEWS. We did not test an ad sponsored by Polis, which included a testimonial by Karen Mahany, the widow of Flight for Life helicopter pilot Pat Mahany. The Polis ad includes Karen Mahany talking about the support she received from Polis, as well as text on screen that said Polis "championed legislation to update safety rules and protect future helicopter crews." Pat Mahany died in a helicopter crash in July 2015. His AS-350 helicopter crashed into the parking lot of St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco. The crash caused the fuel system on the year-old helicopter to rupture. All three on board survived the initial crash, but Mahany died, in part, due to the fire. Since then, Congressman Ed Perlmutter and Polis have sponsored legislation to require crashworthy fuel systems in all new helicopters.

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