Single-payer health care amendment defeated by vast majority of Colorado voters
"While I support expanded health care coverage for all, I do not believe Amendment 69 is the best solution to accomplish that goal," Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Lakewood), who represents Colorado's 7th District, recently told Patient Daily. "Independent studies have concluded that this constitutional amendment would lead to unintended consequences including loss of access to some health care services and a financial shortfall that would impact the state legislature's ability to address other priorities."
Had Coloradans passed Amendment 69, ColoradoCare would have created a health care payment system to finance universal health care in Colorado, in part with an additional 10 percent payroll tax. Of that, two-thirds would have been paid by employers and one-third by employees. The funding would have provided the approximately $25 billion per year in estimated required revenue.
Other non-payroll income would have been taxed at 10 percent. Coloradans not already covered by federal health care insurance programs such as Medicare would be eligible for coverage under ColoradoCare, which would include co-pays for some services but no deductibles.
With nearly 80 percent of Coloradans voting against the motion, however, the state's health care system will remain as it is.
From the beginning, the universal health care measure did not seem to be a high priority for Colorado's representatives in Washington. Patient Daily requested comment from Colorado's entire U.S. representative delegation and only Perlmutter responded.
A spokeswoman in the office of Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver), the chief deputy whip from Colorado's 1st District, said the representative does not take positions on proposed state measures and declined comment about Amendment 69. A spokeswoman from Sen. Michael Bennet's staff referred questions about Amendment 69 to the Democratic senator's re-election campaign, which in turn did not respond.
Supporters of the measure continue to point out that despite the Affordable Care Act's introduction, also known as Obamacare, more than 350,000 Coloradans remain without health insurance.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), endorsed the ballot measure while he was running for the Democrat nomination for president.
"Colorado could lead the nation in moving toward a system to ensure better health care for more people at less cost," Sanders told The Colorado Independent last fall. "In the richest nation on Earth, we should make health care a right for all citizens. No one should go bankrupt or skip getting the care they need because they cannot afford it."
The Coloradocare.org website includes a page with a long list of endorsements for Amendment 69, pointing to a growing trend in U.S. politics.
That said, an even longer list of state and other local elected representative spoke out against the ballot measure.
According to Perlmutter, the energy would be better spent trying to make the Affordable Care Act work, rather than working to upheave the U.S. health care system again.
"I believe we can do more to make the Affordable Care Act work effectively and lower the cost of health care so more people can get the kind of quality care they need and deserve, including implementing a public health insurance option," he said.
A poll last month predicted that Amendment 69 would lose badly, but even it didn't fully account for the amount of opposition the motion encountered in Colorado. A Magellan Strategies survey found that only 27 percent of those who participated in the poll would vote yes, compared to 65 percent who said they would vote no and 8 percent who said they were undecided.
In reality, 79.07 voted against the measure, while only 20.93 percent were in favor.
Organizations in this story
U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515
U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter (CO-7) 12600 W Colfax Ave Lakewood, CO 80215