Analysis raises questions about single-payer health care plan

A single-payer health care system proposed for Colorado would save money, but still struggle to collect enough revenue to fully cover costs, according to an analysis of the measure on the November ballot.

The Colorado Health Institute said its analysis found the so-called ColoradoCare plan would nearly break even in its first year, but would face increasing deficits without additional tax increases.

Proponents of Amendment 69 praised the part of the analysis that projected health care savings, but disputed projections of reduced federal funding that would be available under the plan.

If approved, Amendment 69 would implement a comprehensive health care system funded by a 10 percent tax divided at 6.67 percent for employers and 3.33 percent for employees. People would still choose their medical providers, but bills would be paid by the ColoradoCare system rather than private insurers.

According to the Colorado Health Institute analysis, ColoradoCare would cut billions of dollars in administrative costs and insurance company profits. That money could be reallocated to make Colorado the first state to achieve universal health care coverage. Still, revenues for ColoradoCare — primarily from the 10 percent income tax — won’t keep pace with increasing health care costs.

The analysis found that ColoradoCare would face the same financial dilemma as the current health care system in curbing rising health care costs. Although savings on administrative costs would grow over time, those savings would be overwhelmed by the projected cost of health care growing faster than tax revenue. That revenue accounts for roughly two-thirds of projected funding for the system.

Michele Lueck, president and chief executive director of the Colorado Health Institute, said the organization doesn’t take sides on ballot issues, but strives to provide information about health care issues.

Ivan Miller, executive director of ColoradoCareYES, stated in a news release the analysis assumes federal Medicaid funding would be reduced by $4 billion under the system when it’s reasonable to expect the federal government would maintain that funding under a state waiver. Miller said the analysis also underestimates the ability of the ColoradoCare system to control rising health care costs.

“If CHI had considered increased savings over time and the full Medicaid waiver, it would have found that our model is viable and sustainable,” he said.

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