Shocker: Colorado's Initiative To Implement Single-Payer Health Care Is Way Too Expensive

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Aug 09, 2016 1:05 PM
Shocker: Colorado's Initiative To Implement Single-Payer Health Care Is Way Too Expensive

In 2015, pro-single-payer health care advocates gathered enough signatures to put a universal heath care initiative on the ballot. It’s set to be voted on this year. Yet, like with most aspects of liberal public policy, it’s now found to be way too expensive. Simply put, the state won’t be able to cover the costs of ColoradoCare (via 9News KUSA):

The 2016 ballot initiative to give every Coloradan healthcare won’t be able to cover its costs, according to a study released Monday by the Colorado Health Institute.

That’s despite the fact that the proposed amendment 69, known as ColoradoCare, would more than triple the amount of taxes collected by the state.

“Simply put, the revenue would not be sufficient,” the report stated. “CHI’s model projects that the revenue from taxes and federal funds would fall just short of paying ColoradoCare’s bills in the first year – with widening deficits in each subsequent year.”

The study suggests ColoradoCare would have to cut benefits, raise taxes or reduce payments to doctors and hospitals to achieve long-term financial solvency. The ballot language would empower the proposed 21-member board to make such decisions.

Amendment 69, the first measure to qualify for Colorado’s 2016 ballot, would replace most private health insurance with a single insurer called ColoradoCare.

[…]

By 2028, CHI's computer model projected ColoradoCare would face a budget shortfall of $7.8 billion.

“It shows that ColoradoCare is financially unsustainable and will bleed red ink virtually from day one,” No on 69 spokesman Sean Duffy said. “The only way they can stop the bleeding is to further limit the accessibility and quality of healthcare or increase their already sky-high taxes.”

So, there you have it: single-payer would be a total and complete disaster. Yet, this isn’t new. Where have I seen this movie before? Oh, Vermont tried to do this until January of 2015, where the costs of implementing what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wanted to do nationwide proved to be astronomically expensive. Green Mountain Care, the left wing proposal, was shelved as a result (via Boston Globe):

The numbers were stunning. To implement single-payer, the analysis showed, it would cost $4.3 billion in 2017, with Vermont taxpayers picking up $2.6 billion and the federal government covering the rest. To put the figures into perspective, Vermont’s entire fiscal 2015 budget, including both state and federal funds, is about $4.9 billion.

Shumlin’s office estimated the state would need to impose new personal income taxes of up to 9.5 percent, on top of current rates that range from 3.55 to 8.95 percent. Businesses would be hit with an 11.5 percent payroll tax, on top of 7.65 percent payroll taxes employer pay for Social Security and Medicare.

And even those tax increases might not have been enough. The governor’s office estimated the Green Mountain Care program would run deficits of $82 million by 2020 and $146 million in 2021. Shumlin said he feared the tax increases would harm businesses and the economy.

Jay Fitzgerald, who wrote about the collapse of this left wing dream in Vermont for the Globe, added that this could be the death knell for single-payer health care advocacy in the country.

“If a liberal state electing a Socialist (US Senator Bernie Sanders) to Congress can’t or won’t put a single-payer system into place, then who will?” he asked. Well, Colorado did and they smashed their head into the same wall of economic reality as Vermont.