Bennet Shies Away From Single Payer Debate in Colorado

Proposal raises taxes by $25 billion, the size of current state budget

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet / AP
• November 12, 2015 4:45 pm


Democratic incumbent senator Michael Bennet (Colo.) is shying away from a single payer plan in Colorado that residents will vote on next November.

"ColoradoCare," a government-financed single-payer health care proposal, received the necessary signatures to make the ballot on Monday. The plan would raise taxes by $25 billion, the size of the state’s current budget.

Bennet, who is up for reelection next year, refused to discuss ColoradoCare when asked by a Politico reporter on Tuesday, drawing ire from Republican groups. Bennet’s office did not return a request for comment from the Washington Free Beacon.

"Coloradans have suffered greatly under the negative consequences of Obamacare and are now looking at the furthering of the Obama-Bennet agenda with single-payer health care on the ballot," said Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Advancing Colorado, a free market nonprofit. "This tax hike is 25 times the size of the largest tax hike ever previously introduced in Colorado and it will ration our health care, kill jobs, and hurt families."

"Bennet should have something to say about it, since it is after all a result of his vote for Obamacare," he said.

The group ColoradoCareYES led the effort to get the necessary 100,000 signatures to put initiative 20 on the 2016 ballot. The initiative raises taxes by $25 billion per year with a new payroll tax to pay for the single-payer system, which would provide health coverage to any person who has lived in Colorado for at least one year, as well as undocumented immigrants.

The plan would use the "cooperative business model." The Obamacare co-op in Colorado recently folded, leaving 83,000 residents without insurance.

ColoradoCare fashions itself as the Green Bay Packers of health insurance.

"The Green Bay Packers are a cooperative, owned by the residents of the city of Green Bay, and it has won more championships (13) than any other NFL team," a pamphlet outlining the system states.

An elected board of trustees would run the single-payer system and set reimbursement rates for health providers. The plan envisions that Coloradans would stop buying private insurance.

"It is assumed that residents and Colorado businesses will choose to discontinue purchasing other insurance coverage because ColoradoCare would provide high quality and comprehensive coverage for every resident," according to the plan.

The outline also says that residents would vote on additional tax increases should the program have a shortfall.

ColoradoCareYES is run by state senator Irene Aguilar, a doctor, and T.R. Reid, a former Washington Post reporter. Reid said a single-payer system is necessary because of Obamacare’s failure to fix the health care system.

"Obamacare expanded coverage, but it didn’t get us where we ought to be, and Obamacare, frankly, leaves us still with the most expensive, the most complicated, and the most inequitable health care system of any rich country," he said.

Reid did not return a request for comment about the plan’s price tag by press time. The single-payer system raises taxes by $25 billion each year, which would double the size of Colorado’s current budget.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee attacked Bennet for being silent on the issue.

"Bennet, a loyal Obamacare champion, has been silent on the issue that threatens a new payroll tax for hard-working Coloradans," the group said in a release. "With more than 83,000 Coloradans forced to find a new health insurer because Colorado HealthOP is closing despite Bennet’s promise, Michael Bennet owes it to his constituents to stop hiding and come clean about where he stands on the single-payer model."

"We all know Bennet lied to Coloradans while pushing Obamacare, saying if we liked our plans we could keep them, and if we liked our doctors, we could keep our doctors," Lockwood said. "That whole lie was perpetuated by the supporters of the president's health care scam and has skyrocketed health care costs, constrained access and affordability and robbed us of our freedoms and rights to a free market in health care. Now we are looking at an even worse possibility with ColoradoCare."

UPDATE Friday Nov. 13, 11 A.M.: Following publication of this article, ColoradoCareYES founder T.R. Reid said in an email that ColoradoCare would save Coloradans money.

"ColoradoCare will not be part of the state budget," he said. "It's an insurance plan run by a coop board elected by the citizens. We don't let the legislature get anywhere close to it, because they would squander the premium income."

"Colo. Families & firms now pay well over $32 bil. annually for hlth. insurance, plus copay and deductibles. ColoradoCare  cuts that by more than $6 billion in the first year. So our plan is a major saving for almost everybody. (families making > $250,000 per yr. would pay more than they do now)." (sic throughout)

"ColoCare covers everybody, saves billions, &gets us out of the Obama care mandates and penalties," Reid said. "That's why it will pass."