ColoradoCare Backers Collect 156,000 Signatures for Single-Payer Plan
Proponents of a single-payer health care plan in Colorado collected more than 156,000 signatures to get it on the November 2016 ballot, far more than the 98,492 needed.
The signatures await verification.
The ColoradoCaresYes campaign delivered 27 bushel-sized boxes of petitions in a decommissioned ambulance and wheeled them in on a stretcher Friday morning to the secretary of state. The plan's chief proponent, state Sen. Irene Aguilar, a medical doctor and Democrat from Denver, wore her white lab coat as she pulled along the stretcher.
If it passes, Initiative 20 would replace Obamacare's Colorado health exchange with a plan paid for with a 10 percent "premium tax" on payrolls or other income.
"The task ahead is really to help people understand what this really is, what this really does, what the misrepresentations are that are out there," Aguilar said.
She said supporters will attempt to dispel the impression it's government-run health care — the insurance program eventually would be run by an elected 21-member board — and claimed it would provide more help for more people, by cutting bureaucracy, waste and unreasonable profits.
"If you think health care is too expensive, then we need to do this, because it will decrease spending," she said.
Critics say the proposed $25 billion a year in premium taxes — roughly the size of the entire state budget — is an expensive gamble on something no other state has tried successfully.
Jonathan Lockwood, the executive director of the libertarian-leaning group Advancing Colorado, said the claims won't add up, and the commission will have the authority to raise the 10 percent premium as high as it needs to cover costs.
"They can raise taxes as high as they want as often as they want, and nobody can do anything about it," he said. "It would be created by an un-elected board at first appointed politically, which should scare everyone's pants off."
A interim committee of appointees would create and administer the program for up to three years, according to the ballot question.
According to the ColoradoCareYes campaign finance report, the group had raised $320,171 and spent $242,143 as of Oct. 15. Donations ranged from many as low as $5 to $122,000 from Lyn Gullette, the Louisville psychologist who is the campaign's executive director.
To get on the ballot, the petitions still must be validated as genuine signatures from registered Colorado voters who signed only once, which usually takes about 30 days, according to the secretary of state's office.
An "educated guess" based on past certifications indicates about 30 percent of signatures won't be accepted, according to office spokesman Tim Griesmer.
That rate would still leave Initiative 20 with about 10,000 signatures more than the campaign needs to get on the ballot.
Joey Bunch: 303-954-1174, email@example.com or @joeybunch