A common front is needed for 
single-payer insurance advocates

Even as the Colorado Legislature works to put the final touches on the Colorado Insurance Exchanges required by Obamacare, critics are pushing on two fronts for a single-payer system, instead.

Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, has introduced a bill to create a Colorado Health Care Cooperative to provide a single-payer system instead of the exchanges established under Obamacare.

Meantime, Health Care for All Colorado, is reviving its effort from 2008 to build grass-roots support for a ballot initiative supporting single-payer medical insurance.

A single-payer system is “characterized by universal and comprehensive coverage. Single-payer health care is similar to the health services provided by Medicare in the U.S. The government pays for care that is delivered in the private ... sector. Doctors are in private practice and are paid on a fee-for-service basis from government funds,” according to Medicine.net. Unlike socialized medicine, under a single-payer system, the government neither owns nor manages medical practices or hospitals, which remain private.

Aguilar’s bill cleared the Senate Health and Human Services Committee last Friday. It calls for the Legislature to put a measure on the ballot allowing voters to choose a single-payer system. It would not become effective until 2016.

Although these two single-payer advocates disagree on tactics, they see the need for a more comprehensive plan than the state is offering.

As critics have pointed out, although the Colorado Insurance Exchanges developed under Obamacare will be an improvement over the present dysfunctional medical insurance system, they will not cover all residents of the state.

As Nathan Wilkes told the Denver Post, “the exchange will direct federal subsidies to individuals and small groups, but ... there’s still a long way to go” to cover gaps.

“Many of the new insurance plans sold under the exchange will reflect the private trend of sky-high deductibles and large co-pays for consumers,” Wilkes added. The 31 cents of each health care dollar in the private insurance market that goes for overhead could be saved, he argued.

Wilkes makes a persuasive case because he has a foot in each camp. He serves on the board of directors of the Colorado Insurance Exchanges, while also working with HCAC on an initiative to gather signatures to take the single-payer issue directly to the voters.

“Access to health care is a human right, it’s not something that should be bought and sold as a commodity,” said Donna Smith, executive director of Health Care for All Colorado.

Under the system proposed by HCAC, employees would pay into a trust fund based on income and net worth. Federal funds for Medicare and Medicaid also would go into the fund, contributing billions of dollars annually. All health care payments would come from a single Colorado trust fund.

Aguilar’s bill would establish a non-profit “cooperative” to which employees would contribute three percent of their salary and employers would contribute six percent. It would also add a nine percent income tax increase.

The cooperative would collect premiums, administer benefits and pay providers for health care services as insurance companies do.

It is hard to say which bill has the harder way to go to make the ballot. Aguilar’s bill must get a super-majority in both houses, then win the state referendum to become law.

Just to petition on to the ballot, HCAC would need to collect at least 86,000 valid signatures, requiring at least 100,000 to allow a margin of safety. Without very substantial resources, this is a difficult goal to achieve.

While Sen. Aguilar and the HCAC activists seem to be competing against each other to achieve very similar ends, conservatives are busily doing their work of undermining support for single-payer insurance.

The Denver Post quoted libertarian Independence Institute’s health care analyst Linda Gorman, who claims single-payer systems are “are unbelievably expensive for what you get.”

She also said, “They eliminate treatment and physician choice, make everyone wait for care, degrade the infrastructure needed to diagnose and cure disease and result in widespread denial of care to those who are seriously ill.”

Although these charges have been exposed as untrue repeatedly, they continue to be repeated.

To respond effectively, single-payer advocates should bridge their internal divide and present a common front against conservative-supported, profit-driven health care in Colorado.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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Grant quotes Donna Smith, executive director of Health Care for All Colorado, as saying, “Access to health care is a human right, it’s not something that should be bought and sold as a commodity”. Another way of saying that exact same thing is: having a moral right to own the labor of another person is a “human right”.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. No individual, under any circumstances, twisted logic and/or cutesy language has a moral right to the labor of another person. Pretending otherwise is a fatal blow to the Golden Rule moral principles of self-ownership and self-determination. That’s why sustainable “freebies” (e.g. the biblical mandate to help widows and orphans) are called “charity”: both the need and the giving are determined voluntarily by the giver.
For A to use government coercion/force to steal B’s labor/money in the name of law and under the form of taxation and donate it to causes A thinks are deserving is stealing nonetheless and is self-evidently unsustainable. It is neither logical nor a well-reasoned pathway to the achievement of the full spiritual and intellectual potential of humankind. Like the metaphor of Tolkien’s One Ring of Power (over the Other), it is inherently evil and inevitably corrupting.
Leftists (collectivists), by nature and preferred strategy always deliberately pretend as if there were no such thing as the economic laws of Nature. But there are: 1) whatever you tax (productivity, honesty, integrity, ingenuity, hard work, etc) you get less of, and 2) whatever you subsidize (unemployment, sickness, poverty, single motherhood, scamming, etc) you will get more of. Similarly, 3) if demand is high and supply low, the price will be higher, and 4) if demand is low and supply high, the price will be lower.
The Left always uses rhetorical brinksmanship, ad hominem and demonization against its ideological opponents instead of facts and logic. For example, they pretend to care “for the children” more, thus attempting to seize the moral high ground. Problem is, that sort of deception and manipulation ultimately destroys the very future that all children will inherit. Truth is, logic, reason, Golden-Rule-Ten-Commandments-like morality, and the U.S. Constitution with its Bill of Rights are the only the sustainable path “for the children” and all the rest of society. The rest is willful, suicidal self-delusion on the broad path to destruction.

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