Since 2010, there have been four different major health care reform efforts, and Colorado is one of just a handful of states that has tried each one. Now, Aguilar is proposing ColoradoCare, a resident-owned, universal healthcare system for Colorado residents.
“We’re in a great position to be leaders on this,” she said Thursday.
Aguilar visited Cortez and gave a presentation at City Hall Thursday to discuss ColoradoCare, which will be on the Nov. 8 election ballot as Amendment 69. The talk was put on by the League of Women Voters, and about 30 people attended. Aguilar, a medical doctor, is an author of the amendment.
Starting in 2017, states will be allowed to apply for a waiver from the Affordable Care Act. To be granted the waiver, states must show that a state-based system would provide the same benefits and serve the same people as the ACA, Aguilar said.
All Coloradans would be automatically enrolled in ColoradoCare, bringing health care to 100 percent of state residents, Aguilar said. About 350,000 Coloradans remain uninsured, she said. About 700,000 people are underinsured — meaning they spend more than 10 percent of their income for insurance and cannot afford to access medical care, she said.
The program would be funded by a payroll tax — 6.67 percent for employers and 3.33 percent for employees — and there would be no deductibles or premiums, Aguilar said. ColoradoCare would not be part of a governmental entity, instead governed by an elected board of directors, she said.
The payroll taxes would raise $25 billion in the first year of the program, and further bureaucracy reductions would save the state $4.5 billion, Aguilar said. Currently, the state is spending up to $38 billion per year on health care costs, she added.
In Colorado, a paradox exists between Front Range communities, where insurance rates are lower, and rural areas that have higher costs, Aguilar said. ColoradoCare would give health providers a fairer rate for serving patients on Medicaid, of which there are about a million, Aguilar said. Since there would be no deductibles under ColoradoCare, the middle class would benefit and pay less out-of-pocket, she said.
Private, profit-based health providers keep finding new ways to make money from insurance, she said.
“Profits are going to shareholders while people are dying and can’t afford the care they need,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar looks to other countries, such as Denmark, that have been able to provide health care to all residents. Colorado is a good-size state to try a universal health care system on for size, she said. It gives the state an opportunity to try a system that is optimized for Colorado, rather than the ACA, which is designed as a “one size fits all” system, Aguilar said.
If the ACA waiver is denied, any money spent on ColoradoCare would be refunded to taxpayers, Aguilar said. She has confidence in the system, though.
“I’m very optimistic that this will work,” Aguilar said.