Bill to insure all Coloradans: $26 billion | AspenTimes.com

Bill to insure all Coloradans: $26 billion

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. ” A commission appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter said Thursday it would cost $26 billion a year to provide health insurance to everyone in Colorado, including an estimated 791,000 who have no coverage.

The Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform reviewed four proposals and began work on a fifth, a combination of all the recommendations it reviewed, that will be given to Ritter and the Legislature later this year.

Only a single-payer program would cover all Coloradans.

As a candidate, Ritter promised to make sure all Coloradans had access to health insurance by 2010.

Of the four other proposals under review, one would include no mandates and would provide a basic benefit package through a large pool with a cap on benefits up to $50,000.

Another would require all Coloradans to have health insurance, and a third would include individual and employer mandates to provide coverage or pay an assessment.

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The fourth would create a single-payer program administered like a public utility, with premiums charged through income tax and payroll deductions.

John Shiels, an analyst for The Lewin Group, which analyzed all of the proposals, said Colorado’s current health-care costs total $30 billion, with about $4.2 billion provided by the state.

He said the $26 billion to provide insurance for everyone would actually save about $4 billion a year.

Previous estimates had put the number of uninsured Coloradans at 770,000. The new, higher estimate was based on more extensive research by The Lewin Group.