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State Senators Make Case for Universal Health Care Initiative

A debate over a universal health care ballot initiative took place in the heart of ski country on Tuesday. (Jean-Marie Guyon/iStockphoto)
A debate over a universal health care ballot initiative took place in the heart of ski country on Tuesday. (Jean-Marie Guyon/iStockphoto)
January 27, 2016

DENVER - The debate on whether or not Colorado should opt out of the Affordable Care Act made its way to Frisco yesterday. State Senators Irene Aguilar (D-Denver) and Jeanne Nicholson (D-Georgetown) attended a community forum on ColoradoCare, a ballot initiative proponents say would give all residents "Platinum Plus" coverage and save the state billions each year.

Nicholson, a licensed public health nurse, says the state can do better than Obamacare.

"I believe from my 50 years of practice that the patient is the priority not profits," says Nicholson. "I think right now we have it backwards, and profits seem to be more of a priority than the patient."

Nicholson cites a UnitedHealth CEO's earnings, more than $66 million in 2014, as one example of how a resident-owned plan could cut administration costs.

Governor John Hickenlooper, attending an earlier forum, suggested the measure could keep some health care businesses from moving their headquarters to the state. Nicholson notes the plan would not cut pay for doctors and nurses, but insurance and pharmaceutical companies could be impacted.

Nicholson says opponents who argue the plan will raise taxes by $25 billion are correct, but they are only telling half the story. She says if you add up insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, Colorado currently spends $30 billion, so the initiative could save the state almost $5 billion a year.

Nicholson says Summit County residents could see their costs drop from almost $6 million a year to $1.5 million if voters approve the measure.

"With ColoradoCare there will be no deductibles and there will be no co-insurance," she says. "That money that people are spending now can be freed up to spend on other things that will benefit Colorado's economy."

Nicholson says since the initiative, Amendment 69 on the ballot in November, will be decided by voters, it's critical for residents to get all the facts before deciding the future of health care in Colorado.

For a complete list of upcoming forums, visit ColoradoCareYes.co.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO