- The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 2015

DENVER — A landmark measure that would replace Colorado’s Obamacare exchange with a Canadian-style single-payer health care system — at an estimated cost of $25 billion — qualified Monday for the statewide November 2016 ballot.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced that backers of the proposed ColoradoCare initiative had turned in sufficient signatures based on a random sample, and would be certified for the ballot.

The ColoradoCare measure, tentatively called Amendment 69, would guarantee every resident Medicare-style health care, funded by a 10 percent payroll tax increase. The program would be administered by a nonprofit cooperative run by a 21-member board, not a state agency.

The proposed constitutional amendment would let Colorado become the first state to opt out of Obamacare by implementing statewide universal coverage. Connect for Health Colorado, the state exchange, has come under fire for cost overruns, fee increases and computer glitches.

Proponents of the single-payer system submitted last month 158,831 signatures, far more than the 98,492 valid signatures required to qualify for the ballot.

The plan, spearheaded by Democratic state legislators, has the support of former Democratic Gov. Dick Lamm, who said he endorses the single-payer concept.

SEE ALSO: N.Y. takes steps to rescue Obamacare co-op customers

“We have to get rid of for-profit health care,” said Mr. Lamm in an interview last week with the Colorado Statesman. “The insurance companies are one of the low hanging fruits in the health care reform.”

Whether Colorado voters will sign onto the whopping tax increase is another question. Two years ago, Colorado voters rejected a $1 billion tax increase for education.

ColoradoCare advocates say the cost to residents will be considerably lower than the state’s $25 billion estimate after factoring in savings on insurance premiums, while critics say the plan will cause businesses to flee the state and the quality of health care to plunge.

“ColoradoCare will triple our taxes, lead to rationing of health care and will make Colorado a less attractive state for Millennials, businesses and families. Coloradans do not want to see their taxes triple and all the progress with health care reform thrown in the trash for a single-payer health care system. We can get more people covered, more affordably and more realistically with market-driven reforms that ensure choice and options,” said Advancing Colorado executive director Jonathan Lockwood.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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