- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

DENVER (AP) - Supporters of universal health care have gathered enough signatures to put on next year’s ballot a plan to make Colorado the first state to opt out of the federal health law and replace it with taxpayer-funded coverage for all.

Proponents submitted 158,831 qualified signatures, about 60,000 more than required to put the measure on the ballot, Secretary of State Wayne Williams said Monday. The question would make Colorado the first state to opt out of the federal Affordable Care Act and replace it with universal health care.

Vermont lawmakers passed universal health care in 2011. But three years later, the state abandoned the plan as too expensive.

The ColoradoCareYES campaign says employers would have to pay a new tax - about 7 percent of a worker’s wages - into the health co-op, on top of deductions for Social Security and Medicare. Employees would have a payroll tax of about 3 percent. Both employers and workers then would not have to pay premiums to a private health insurer.

The campaign says those taxes would raise enough money to cover children and adults who do not work. They say the plan will cost $3 billion a year but will save $9 billion in health care administration costs compared with the current system.

Skeptics say costs would run out of control.

The campaign is expected to face intense opposition and could make for a heavily funded, highly visible debate over the viability of single-payer health care in a key swing state in the 2016 presidential election.

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