Proponents, opponents consider single-payer healthcare plan during debate
Steamboat Springs — Opposing sides took the stage last week at Strings Pavilion to debate the merits of a proposed single-payer state healthcare system.
Voters will decide in November whether to approve Amendment 69, which would separate Colorado from the Affordable Care Act and make it the first state to pay for comprehensive healthcare for residents through a program called ColoradoCare.
Employees and employers would together pay 10 percent of payroll costs to the state, which would then provide coverage through ColoradoCare, eliminating the role of private insurance companies.
Proponents of the plan say that, under ColoradoCare, more people would be insured, most would end up paying less for insurance and overall healthcare costs will go down billions of dollars.
“It simplifies the healthcare system,” said Owen Perkins, a spokesperson for ColoradoCareYES, who, along with journalist and author T.R. Reid, argued in favor of the amendment. “It becomes a plan made by Coloradans, for Coloradans.”
Opponents argue that, while the Affordable Care Act is imperfect, there are better fixes than Amendment 69, which they call risky and flawed.
“There’s a lot of public oversight now, but there won’t be when this passes,” said Linda Gorman, director of the health care policy at the Independence Institute, who, along with Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, argued against Amendment 69. “This entity that’s going to be your insurer is outside all government checks and balances.”
Turner and Gorman pointed to another plan presented last week by U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as a possible alternative to Obamacare.
Last week’s debate was hosted by the Steamboat Institute and the Independence Institute and included debate questions given from one side to another and some questions posed by audience members. Krista Kafer, co-host of “Kelley & Kafer,” on radio station 710-KNUS, hosted the debate.
Some opponents have argued that the money generated through payroll taxes won’t be enough to cover all coverage claims, which could mean crushing effects for the Colorado economy.
“I don’t believe numbers unless I see how they’ve been estimated,” Gorman said.
Proponents of ColoradoCare told audience members that, if they didn’t vote for Amendment 69, they were indirectly voting to keep the Affordable Care Act.
“If you want Obamacare, vote ‘no’ on ColoradoCare in November,” Reid said.
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Routt County’s Human Resources Coalition has outlined a three-year plan to help vulnerable county residents, putting particular focus on affordable housing, transit and mental health.