Colorado House committee to restore single-payer health care system discusses health care

Colorado House committee to restore single-payer health care system discusses health care

Some lawmakers are looking back at information from the 2019 study in hopes of continuing to explore the possibility of implementing a single-payer health care system in Colorado.

The bill, HB 1075, was passed by the House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.

If the bill passes, the Colorado School of Public Health will be tasked with analyzing draft model legislation to implement a single-payer, nonprofit, publicly funded and privately delivered universal health care payment system that provides direct reimbursement to providers.

It will also create a working group to advise the School of Public Health during the analysis.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Karen McCormick, D-Health, said the bill would expand on the findings of research sponsored by HB19 1176, also known as the Health Care Cost Savings Act. The study, also conducted by the School of Public Health, found that implementing a single-payer health care system would expand coverage for Coloradans and create significant cost savings. McCormick and the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Andrew Boesenecker, D-Berthoud, previously sponsored a similar bill, HB23 1209, which passed the House, but the legislative session Discussion ends on the Senate floor.

Dr. Greg Tung, a professor at the Colorado School of Public Health and a 2019 study contributor, supports the 2024 bill. He said the bill would provide a more focused study of the specific cost implications of implementing a universal health care system, particularly for stakeholders such as hospitals and individuals covered by specific payment systems.

Opponents of the bill, including committee member Rep. Brandi Bradley, R-Larkspur, pointed to Amendment 69, the 2016 constitutional amendment initiative that proposed creating a payment system to fund universal health care in the state. Nearly 80% of Coloradans voted against the amendment. Bradley also cited a committee report on affordable health care that did not recommend a single-payer system.

“We keep saying this will work, but we hear our constituents say no,” she said. “We already had committees in place – they said no. So now we have a task force. I’m just wondering when you guys are going to finally listen.”

In her closing remarks before the committee, McCormick acknowledged concerns about the vote on Amendment 69 and revealed that she even voted against it. Still, she said she’s learned a lot since 2016, and she believes voters have learned a lot too.

Hope Stone of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative also expressed support for HB1075.

“The status quo in how we pay and deliver health care is not working,” she said. “Colorado consumers are feeling the physical, financial and emotional impacts of these market failures every day.”

University of Colorado student William Navarrete Moreno, a member of the school’s Alliance for Health Promotion and Closing the Equity Gap, spoke about his family’s struggle to afford medical care due to high medical costs. His mother suffered from cancer and his brother suffered from a substance abuse disorder and both died because they could not afford treatment for their respective conditions.

“This bill provides a glimmer of hope for our state,” he said. “It opens the door for us to create the health care system of the future so that future generations know that health care is not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it, but is a right for all.”

Meghan Dollar of the Colorado Chamber of Commerce echoed concerns expressed by committee member Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Fort Morgan, that the bill’s language suggests a predetermined outcome.

“While we recognize that this bill is a study, we are concerned that some of the intent of this study was to obtain predetermined results,” she said. “Additionally, given what has been done in the past to improve Colorado’s health care system All the work, why not get some of these policies working first and then think about looking at a single-payer system?”

“The data and voters are clear that this is not an effective way to provide basic health care to Coloradans,” said Rachel Baker of the Colorado Competition Commission.

The bill carries four amendments, one of which would add three members to the advisory committee and allow the School of Public Health to hire an actuarial consultant to help. A revised version of the bill passed along party lines and will now go to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.time

In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Lafayette.

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