While the November election this year has the media talking Trump, Sanders, and Clinton, there’s a lesser known issue on the ballot in one state. Colorado’s Amendment 69 proposes a statewide, single-payer healthcare system for the Rocky Mountain State. Should the amendment pass, the healthcare system in Colorado will see massive, widespread changes to healthcare delivery. The vote stands not only to affect nurse practitioners practicing in Colorado, but also those working in neighboring states, or states whose governments may follow suit.
Amendment 69 proposes the creation of ColoradoCare, a system in which the Colorado government would almost entirely fund healthcare for the state. Creators of ColoradoCare say that patients would continue to choose their own providers, while the government foots the bill for medically necessary care. Deductibles would be eliminated, and co-pays would be fewer and less costly. Recipients of healthcare from federal programs such as seniors on Medicare and military personnel on Tricare, would remain insured under these plans. The $25 billion dollar price tag for running the program would be funded by tax hikes paid by employers and employees.
Proponents of ColoradoCare argue that the amendment increases access to and affordability of care for Colorado’s citizens. Not only would the program benefit patients, proponents of the amendment say that universal healthcare for the state would cut overhead and administrative costs of care. For example, it would allow for more favorable negotiations with companies when it comes to the purchase price of items like prescription drugs.
Opponents of ColoradoCare argue that the plan is too costly and could have unintended consequences. One out of every five jobs in Colorado, for example, is in the healthcare industry. Transitioning to a government based health system could significantly disrupt the state’s economy. Increasing access to care, without increasing the number of healthcare resources and providers in the state, could also lead to healthcare rationing. Although patients are able to afford care, they may face long wait times given limited availability of resources.
While this is not the first time a state has looked to create a single payer health system, Vermont investigated the idea ultimately deeming it too costly, it is the amendment with the most traction. Voters in Colorado have proven averse to tax increases in past elections and have not passed a statewide tax increase in twenty years. Will Amendment 69 change this precedent, making Colorado the first single-payer health system in the U.S.?