DENVER, COLORADO: On March 21, 2013, State Senator Irene Aguilar will introduce a bill for a referendum on the Colorado Health Care Cooperative, a proposal for universal health care in Colorado.
The Cooperative, if approved by the legislature and the people of Colorado, would establish in the state constitution a consumer cooperative responsible for maintaining a transparent, efficient, high-quality system of health care for all Coloradans. The Cooperative would be governed initially by an interim board appointed by the governor and legislature, and once the system is up and running, it would be governed by a board elected by the members–all Coloradans.
The Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care (www.CoUniversalHealth.org) with support from Caring for Colorado (www.caringforcolorado.org) has recently released a study by Professor Gerald Friedman, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts–Amherst, showing that the Colorado Health Care Cooperative would save Coloradans nearly $5 billion in the first year of operation (2016) over both our current system of health care and the system expected under the Accountable Care Act (Obamacare).
Over the next eight years, Cooperative savings would continue to mount to a total of $16.2 billion by 2024–and this while considerably exceeding the quality of care under both Obamacare and our current system. These savings would result largely from three sources: from administrative efficiencies made possible by the Cooperative, from bulk buying of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, and from fraud reduction resulting from the transparency of the Cooperative system. Some jobs would be lost in medical providers’ offices because of redundancy in administrative positions in the first year of operation, but the savings generated by the Cooperative would, it is estimated, create more than twice as many new jobs in the first year and still more in later years.
The system could be paid for, the Friedman study shows, with premiums based on a fixed 3% of employee wage income, 6% of payrolls (with an employer option to pay employee share), and 9% of nonwage income. Premium-eligible income would be capped at $350,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families. Pension income would be exempt.
Costs for medical care would be less for Colorado families with incomes under $100,000 or 80% of all Coloradans. All care would be delivered with no deductibles and modest, if any, copays; and total costs, Friedman shows, would remain at a sustainable 14.5% of gross state product.
For policy experts wishing to understand the quality of its coverage, the Colorado Health Care Cooperative would begin in 2016 with an actuarial value of 88% of all medically necessary care and rise to 94% by 2024. For non experts desiring the same understanding, the Colorado Health Care Cooperative would begin in 2016 by covering almost all medically necessary needs, including mental health and substance abuse, and by 2024 it would include medically necessary vision, hearing, and dental care for all Colorado residents.
For more information about the bill and the Friedman report, to donate, or to help make the Colorado Health Care Cooperative a reality, www.Co-operateColorado.org or its 501(c )3 sister, www.CoUniversalHealth.org. Both organizations have offices at 1750 Gilpin Street, Denver, 80218. For answers to specific questions, info@Co-operateColorado.org.