Given cost, single-payer health care doomed to fail in Colorado, too

Tony Gagliardi NFIB
Tony Gagliardi NFIB

The votes are in: Obamacare has failed. What else is there to conclude from the 156,107 signatures of Coloradans on a petition for a single-payer health care system that supporters turned into the secretary of state for validation?

Here’s the bad news for the Colorado Care campaign: Should your initiative make it on to the November 2016 ballot and pass, single-payer will fail here, too. Look to Vermont for the same reason why: cost.

In 2010, “Single Payer” Pete Shumlin ran for governor of Vermont promising a new health care system that would cover everyone. “During the campaign, I said single-payer is dead,” warned Scott Milne to the Christian Science Monitor. Milne narrowly lost to Shumlin. “I’m telling you that now, and Peter Shumlin’s going to wait until after the election.”

Milne’s prediction proved correct. In December, Shumlin pulled the plug. “The governor’s push to make Vermont the first state with a publicly financed health care system was always contingent on finding an affordable way to pay for the plan,” editorialized the Burlington Free Press. “In announcing his decision, the governor said, ‘It became clear that the risk of economic shock is too high at this time to offer a plan I can responsibly support for passage in the Legislature.’ ”

Rarely has “shock” been such an understatement.
“The financing plan called for an 11.5 percent payroll tax for employers and a 9.5 percent tax on all Vermonters. Small business owners — who would be both employer and employee — would have to pay both,” the editorial stated.

Imagine Shumlin’s plan exported to Colorado, where, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses employ about half of the more than 990,000 in the private work force and constitute nearly 98 percent of all employers. Better yet, visualize closed shops, abandoned Main streets and decaying communities. There’s no way a small business owner could afford single-payer health care.

Guess what? Vermont has come to Colorado. Proposed Initiative 20 also calls for taxing employers and employees, as enumerated in Subsection 9, but there’s more — much, much more. While the percentages were kept low enough for public relations purposes to make quibbling with them seem petty and churlish, the number of them astounds and small business owners will be levied on more than one of them.

According to economist Greg Sobetski of the Colorado Legislative Council staff, the initiative taxes “wages, salaries, tips, dividends, interest, rents, business proprietors’ income, farm proprietors’ income, capital gains, pensions, annuities, and Social Security income to the extent taxed by the state under current law.” Sobetski estimates $25 billion in new tax revenue will have been raised under the initiative’s first full year of implementation.

The price tag of Vermont’s single-payer system killed it, so backers of Colorado Care no doubt wanted a bigger bite of the apple to make sure the same fate wouldn’t befall them. But here’s the billion dollar question: How much tax revenue can you raise from businesses no longer in operation and employees no longer working?

Shumlin was back in the news recently, announcing that two years late, Vermont’s Health Connect, which was built to accommodate Obamacare, might finally be working correctly. When running for governor and campaigning for a single-payer system, he had called Vermont Health Connect a “nothing burger.”Our state’s equivalent, Connect for Colorado, has also run less than smoothly. While small business owners sympathize with wanting something different, pouring gasoline on the grill cooking our nothing burger is not the way.

For nearly three decades, the people who care most about their employees, small business owners, have listed the cost of health care as their biggest problem. Most of them want to provide it, but can’t afford to do so. Part of the problem is due to policymakers’ inability to invert the equation: Get costs under control and cover more people. There are ways, such as allowing small business owners to form greater purchasing pools for health care, including across state lines. But until now, it has all fallen on deaf ears.

Obamacare has only exacerbated the problem. But maybe the coming crisis certain to be created by Colorado Care will finally get people to listen.

9 Responses to "Given cost, single-payer health care doomed to fail in Colorado, too"

  1. lissmth   November 5, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I don’t understand how anyone would choose to have the government manage their every medical care item. How awful! Ten percent won’t do it either. Ask Vermont.

  2. Lakewood Ed   November 6, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Imagine the influx of people willing to take advantage of the plan. People going onto welfare and getting free medical care for whatever ails them.

    • UBG   November 6, 2015 at 11:29 am

      If that passes, then my house will be on the market the first Wednesday of next November.

      • Thomas Reid   November 8, 2015 at 1:35 pm

        If you put your house on the market, you’ll get a great price. Employers from all over the country will be moving here to take advantage of a system that guarantees comprehensive health care for their employees at a cost way below what private insurance plans charge.

    • Cosmo Kramer   December 21, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      It will be worse than the pot influx. I hate everything about single payer, but if you are going single payer, you can’t be the ONLY state to do it or every Tom, Dick and Harry will be crossing over your border. It’ will implode and there won’t be enough physicians

  3. Charles Vairin   November 6, 2015 at 9:54 am

    No accounting for the stupidity of democrats and their minions. Unless we really fight ferociously against this threat the burden will be put on the minority who work. I can’t figure out why the democrats hate us so much.

  4. Thomas Reid   November 8, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    The Colo. Federation of Commerce and Industry says Colo. businesses have average health care costs of about 12% of payroll. And employers have no idea how much the premiums are going to go up the next year. In contrast, ColoradoCare will charge employers 6.7%, and the amount doesn’t change each year. Isn’t that a better deal than what we’ve got now with ObamaCare?
    If you vote against ColoradoCare, you’re voting for the status quo — i.e., ObamaCare. You will be drummed out of the NFIB if they know you are advocating a vote for ObamaCare.

  5. mrgem   November 23, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I recall that back in the 1970s, many Coloradoans sported bumperstickers on their cars reading “Don’t Californicate Colorado.”

    Clearly, the danger of emulating the policies of coastal urban population centers is still very real. On issue after issue, the left-wing forces in our state government seem to want to do precisely that…And in this case, they want to actually one up the Golden State with socialized medicine that will require massive tax increases and will likely put thousands of small businesses out of business.

    Hopefully the citizens of this state — including tens of thousands of refugees from those coastal bastions of big government, know better than to turn Colorado into the kind of mess they fled.

  6. Stan Taylor   April 1, 2016 at 11:32 am

    A MODEST PROPOSAL to reform the health care system and provide many new
    benefits. This is a reasonable alternative to a single payers system or
    the ACA act.
    1. Repeal Obamacare and the expansion of medicaid.
    2. Stop paying for the uninsured and Illegals by the government or insurance companies.
    3. Make sure all people get appropriate treatment.
    3a. If a person cannot pay for the health care at the hospital they
    transfer him to the euthanasia ward for a quick and painless death to
    end their and the family suffering..
    4. A panel of Insurance company Rep would decide who can afford regular
    treatment. Note this is a life panel, it picks out who will live.
    5. This plan would have a no negative cost since the organs of the euthanized would pay for the wards and treatment.

    Positives are
    The taxpayer are not stuck with the bill
    It would reduce the takers in society
    Relieve the pain and slow death of the ill
    Provide organs for those in need of organ transplants
    The government would be out of health care and benefit the givers of society.
    A huge cut in health care expense to society and the government,
    Big tax cuts and lower insurance rates
    Much better health care for those that receive it.
    Note I am not in the medical field so i will not profit from this proposal. I offer this out of the goodness in my heart.