Eye on the Legislature

"After the Session"

July 25, 2016
   Back in the days when the Affordable Care Act, now referred to as Obamacare,  was passed, President Obama commented to the effect it was not a perfect plan, but it was a start.
   What would have been a better, more accurate description is to say, “We know we could never impose the single-payer plan in one step, and the cost of such a system is not within the realm of affordability, so we'll do so one step at a time.” That's government “speakease” for slipping up on those not paying attention.
   Amendment 69 is just such a tactic. The definition of a single payer health care system taken from the Obamacare Facts website is: 

  • A “pure” single payer system eliminates private insurance and replaces it with a single fund, typically run by a single entity such as a government agency.

   That said, the caveat is a single payer system is so complicated, it has a different meaning in different countries throughout the world. It was also an idea pushed by Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy.
Here in America, “a pure  universal single payer health care system would be paid, in part, through taxes based on income replacing insurance premiums, copays, deductibles, etc. All plans would have the same benefits and networks. This would replace our multi-tier system that rewards income with quality care.” The phrase “paid in part through taxes based on income” is what should run up a red flag. The following paragraphs are repeated from last week's column:
   Readers are cautioned that anything you read or hear about Amendment 69 means ColoradoCare is across the board totally exempt from the Taxpayers Bill of Rights. There will be no restriction on the tax (premiums) the governing board can impose on you the citizens of Colorado. (Section 10. Exemption. ColoradoCare and this article are exempt from Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution. [Article X is the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (aka TABOR)].
   Further caution - Section 3. There is hereby established a political subdivision of the state called ColoradoCare. ColoradoCare is not an agency of the state and is not subject to administrative direction or control by any state executive, department, commission, board, bureau or agency.
In 2014 Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin's efforts to push through single-payer health care ended with the release of a financial report that showed it would nearly double the size of the state's budget in the first year alone, and require large tax increases for residents and businesses. In the recent campaign of Vermont Bernie Sanders, the single payer system was an important part of his campaign rhetoric. Did he ever explain why Vermont does not have a single-payer health care system? These figures from the report released by Shumlin (and the Boston Globe):

  • The cost for single payer health care in 2017:  $4.3 billion (Vermont's total state budget for fiscal year 2015 for state and federal funds was about $4.9 billion);
  • Estimates by Shumlin's office would mean new personal income taxes of 9.5 percent in addition to the current tax rate from 3.55 to 8.96 percent; and
  • Business rates would increase by 11.5 percent, in addition to 11.5 percent payroll tax plus 7.65 percent payroll taxes paid by employers for Social Security and Medicare.

   Shumlin's office acknowledged such increases might not be enough as his estimates showed the Vermont single-payer health care system (also known as the Green Mountain Care program) “would run deficits of $ 82 million by 2020 and $146 million by 2021, further expressing concern such costs would harm businesses and the state's economy.
The ballot language in Colorado's 2016 election asks “Shall taxes be increased by $25 billion annually in the first full fiscal year and by such amounts that are raised thereafter . . .?”
Note, Colorado's current budget is $27 billion, meaning Amendment 69 would nearly double the size of the state's budget, and there would no limit on what the amount would be in future years. 

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.