Single-payer health insurance will help Coloradans | PostIndependent.com

Single-payer health insurance will help Coloradans

Randy Fricke

Randy Fricke

Got health insurance? This November marks the third enrollment period for Obamacare for those Americans who do not have health insurance or for those who need to re-enroll. If Americans don't obtain health insurance for this enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 1, 2015, to Jan. 31, 2016, they will be penalized with a fine of $695 per individual.

Obamacare is a very complex health care system. Health care in Colorado became more complicated recently. According to news coverage by the Post Independent and the Vail Daily during the past few weeks, the Colorado Division of Insurance is dropping Colorado HealthOp from the Connect for Health Colorado health exchange, which oversees the Obamacare system in Colorado.

Overall, 83,000 policyholders in Colorado will lose their health insurance coverage as result of this action by the state Division of Insurance. This includes about 7,000 policyholders in Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin and Summit counties. Now what happens? The scramble begins for many of these people to find alternatives for their health insurance coverage. They should be given some type of emergency blanket coverage by the health insurance exchange. It was not their fault that they lost their health insurance.

There is hope on the horizon for many Coloradans who desire high-quality health insurance coverage that will be there for them now and in the future. A group organized by Colorado citizens called "ColoradoCareYES" has been promoting such a comprehensive health care insurance plan for every Coloradan for some time. According to the group's information sheet, state Sen. Irene Aguilar, M.D., has been working with local and national policy advisers, economists, legal consultants as well as stakeholders for several years on this initiative. Organizers for ColoradoCareYES delivered 156,107 signatures to the Secretary of State's Office on Oct. 23 to put Initiative 20 ColoradoCare on the ballot in 2016. Colorado could make history next November by being the first state in the nation to approve a comprehensive single-payer health insurance system.

I was tipped off to this recent development by one of my e-mail news sources from Truthout titled: "Will Colorado Become the First State to Implement Single-Payer Health Care?"(Oct. 20, 2015). This detailed article written by Michael Corcoran illustrates that ColoradoCareYES supporters have done their homework.

Vermont attempted this last year, but it failed due to the politics of the governor and Legislature. Colorado has a distinct advantage that Vermont does not. Colorado is one of 25 states that has the initiative process allowing citizens to organize ballot initiatives and bypass the political interference of the state legislatures and governors who are under pressure from lobbyists. Organizers for ColoradoCareYes have prepared for success with their vision and hard work.

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Here are a few highlights of the ColoradoCare plan that captured my attention immediately:

1. Organizationally, ColoradoCare would be a cooperative business that would operate like credit unions, rural electric cooperatives or even like the Green Bay Packers. Members elect a board of trustees from districts designated across the state. These trustees hire the administrative team to operate the cooperative. Operationally, this is the most transparent plan that I have seen.

2. The universal coverage offers every resident lifelong health care coverage.

3. This health insurance coverage has no deductibles and no co-pays.

4. Cost of this coverage seems to be very fair and affordable.

5. The freedom to choose health care professionals.

6. This plan is very business-friendly, especially for small business owners.

7. This system will save city governments and the state government millions of dollars.

There are many more win-win benefits to ColoradoCare listed on website, coloradocareyes.co.

Funding for ColoradoCare will come from the Affordable Care Act under Section 1332. This is the section that provides an innovation waiver for states to create an alternative health care system. This innovation by ColoradoCare will give Colorado and its residents the freedom to operate a high-quality health care system independent of the federal bureaucracy.

I like this concept. I study and research Obamacare extensively, and this is the best alternative to the Obamacare system that I have seen so far. Colorado could open the door for the rest of the nation to get back the public health care option that the corporate health insurance lobby denied the America people when the ACA was passed in 2010. The leaders of ColoradoCare believe that this health-care system can be a model for the nation. So do I. The citizens of Colorado should give ColoradoCare a yes vote in November 2016.

Randy Fricke of New Castle is an environmental advocate, political activist and author of the book "If I Were President/Saving Main Street America." This is the debut of his column, which will appear on the first Friday of each month.