Bill advances to study single-payer health care in Colorado | AspenTimes.com
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Bill advances to study single-payer health care in Colorado

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” A House committee has approved a bill that could set the stage for a single-payer health care system, potentially leading to a major change in the way Coloradans get and pay for medical care.

The bill (House Bill 1273) would establish a health care authority with a 23-member board of directors to create a system in Colorado that would be the administrator and payer for health care services.

The House Business Affairs and Labor Committee approved it Wednesday amid cheers and clapping from the audience and sent it to appropriations.

Despite the significance of the step, the bill was introduced with little fanfare.

The initial costs, estimated at more than $1.4 million over the next two years, would be paid with gifts, grants and donations.

Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, said the current health care system is broken and the state needs to begin building a system that works.

“For too many Coloradans, they’re just one crisis away from bankruptcy,” he said.

Kefalas said the bill would help an estimated 800,000 people in Colorado who have no health insurance, and thousands more who have insufficient health care coverage.

Joan Henneberry, director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, said Gov. Bill Ritter backs solutions recommended by his blue-ribbon task force on health care.

The 27-member Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform last year offered lawmakers five proposals in their final report, but a single-payer system was not among them.

One would require that people purchase insurance and prevent companies from rejecting sick applicants. Others include a $26 billion-a-year plan to provide insurance to everyone in the state in a single-payer plan; a plan to provide a basic benefit package through a large insurance pool with a $50,000 cap on benefits; a plan to require all Coloradans to have health insurance; and a proposal to place mandates on individuals and employers to provide coverage or pay an assessment.

The commission recommended the state continue to study the single-payer plan. But panel members said it is unlikely because it would require multiple acts of Congress to waive requirements for veterans benefits, federal employees and other federal health programs.


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