Reviving information from a 2019 study, some lawmakers want to continue exploring the possibility of implementing a single-payer health care system in Colorado.
The bill, HB 1075, was approved Wednesday by the House Health and Human Services Committee.
If the bill passes, the Colorado School of Public Health will be charged with analyzing model bills to implement a single-payer, not-for-profit, publicly funded, privately provided universal health care payment system that compensates providers directly.
It would also create a task force to advise the School of Public Health during its analysis.
Bill sponsor, Rep. Karen McCormick, D-Hygiene, said she would expand on the findings of the study initiated by HB19 1176, also known as the Health Care Cost Savings Act. That study, which was also conducted by the School of Public Health, found that implementing a single-payer health care system would extend coverage to more Coloradans and result in 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 ended while it was being debated in the Senate.
Dr. Greg Tung, a professor at the Colorado School of Public Health and a contributor to the 2019 study, supports the 2024 bill. This bill would be a more focused effort to examine the specific cost implications of implementing a universal system. of healthcare, especially for stakeholders such as hospitals and individuals covered by specific payment systems, he said.
Opponents of the bill, including committee member Rep. Brandi Bradley, R-Larkspur, cited Amendment 69, a 2016 constitutional amendment initiative that proposed creating a single-payer system designed to fund universal health care in the state. Nearly 80% of Coloradans voted against the amendment. Bradley also referred to a committee report on affordable health care that did not recommend a single-payer system.
“We keep saying this is going to work, and we’ve heard our constituents say no,” she said. “We’ve developed commissions — they’ve said no. So now we have a task force. I’m just wondering when you’re finally going to hear.”
During her closing remarks to the committee, McCormick acknowledged concerns stemming from the Amendment 69 vote, revealing that she herself voted against it at the time. Still, she said, she’s learned a lot since 2016, and she believes the voters have, too.
Also speaking in favor of HB1075 was Hope Stone of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.
“The status quo of how we pay for and how we deliver health care is not working,” she said. “Consumers across Colorado feel the physical, financial and emotional impacts of these market failures every day.”
William Navarrete Moreno, a student from the University of Colorado and a member of the school’s Coalition to Advance Health and Close Equity Gaps, spoke about his family’s struggles to afford health care due to high costs. Both his mother, who had cancer, and his brother, who struggled with a substance use disorder, died because they were unable to afford treatment for their respective conditions.
“This bill offers a glimmer of hope for our state,” he said. “It opens the door to allow us to create a future health care system that allows future generations to know that health care is not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it, but a right for all. “
Meghan Dollar of the Colorado Chamber of Commerce echoed the concerns expressed by committee member Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Fort Morgan, that the bill’s language hinted at a predetermined outcome.
“While we recognize that the bill is a study, we are concerned that there is an intention in the study to obtain a predetermined result,” she said. “Besides, given all the work that’s been done in the past to improve Colorado’s health care system, why not let some of those policies work before looking at studying a single-payer system?”
Rachel Beck of the Colorado Competitiveness Council said, “Both the data and the voters have made it clear that this is not an efficient way to provide Coloradoans with essential health care.”
Four amendments were made to the bill, including one to add three more members to the advisory committee and to allow the School of Public Health to hire an actuarial consultant to assist. The amended version of the bill passed along party lines and will now go before the House Appropriations Committee. T
In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Lafayette.