Single-Payer Healthcare in Colorado Faces Significant Obstacles Even If Approved


This November Colorado voters will go to the polls to elect a new president, just like every other state in the nation. But in our state, we’ll be voting on a ballot initiative to institute single-payer healthcare in Colorado.

Many people believe that with the problems that continue to plague the implementation and day-to-day workings of the Affordable Care Act (the ACA, or Obamacare), a nationwide single-payer system is less likely to fly with most Americans. So those who advocate for such a system are setting their sites on individual states, much like Canada did before it became a provider of universal healthcare in the 20th century. And it looks like Colorado is one of the first testing grounds for just what Americans think of such systems.

There are significant obstacles to the implementation of such system at state-levels; Vermont already tried a few years back and failed. One is that Medicare, which is the federal program that pays for healthcare for the elderly, is a well-entrenched federal program that is highly unlikely to ever give over its care and feeding to the states.

And Medicaid, the federal government’s healthcare program for the indigent, falls into the same category. Although states are responsible for the delivery of those benefits, they do so under very strict federal constraints.

The majority of private health insurance is provided from employer-paid plans, which are self-funded by businesses through the federal government’s ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) program. ERISA preempts state insurance laws, so it’s unlikely that any state-funded single-payer system could supercede this.

Because the federal government essentially controls healthcare for the elderly, the indigent, and those working for businesses of over 100 employees, it’s unlikely that it will hand over this control to the individual states. And that will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for any state to implement a single-payer system, even if the citizens approve it.

  Date posted: Monday, July 18th, 2016
Category: Health Care Reform, Health Insurance

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