Letter: ColoradoCare not ‘single-payer’

By Don Pfost, Ph.D.
The Pueblo (Colo.) Chieftan, July 1, 2016

The broadcast and print media (including The Chieftain), opponents and, unfortunately, some supporters, erroneously claim that Amendment 69/ColoradoCare would create a “single-payer” health care system in Colorado.

It would not. Here’s why. As the term implies, “single-payer” means that a single public or quasi-public agency organizes health care financing. However, under Amendment 69, over 20 percent of Colorado’s population would not be covered by ColoradoCare, but would remain enrolled in one of several federal programs, including Medicare, the Veterans Administration, TriCare and the Indian Health Service.

It’s virtually impossible for individual states to create a true single-payer system because of federal programs, like Medicare.

However, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, HR676, based in part on a proposal by Physicians for a National Health Program (, would establish a national single-payer health insurance system.

“Medicare for All” would include the following features: A single trust fund would handle all health care financing. All U.S. residents would be covered for all medically necessary services, including outpatient and inpatient medical care, mental health care, long-term care, dental services, and prescription drugs. By redirecting $400 billion in administrative waste to care, there would be no net increase in health spending. Large-scale cost controls, including negotiated fee schedules with physicians, bulk purchasing of drugs and hospital budgeting, would ensure that benefits are sustainable over the long run. Patients would have free choice of their doctor and hospital and patients and providers would make all health care decisions. And finally, insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, such as co-pays and deductibles, would be replaced with progressive income and wealth taxes, and 95 percent of Americans would pay less for health care than they do now.

ColoradoCare would benefit Coloradans, but what we really need is “Medicare for All,” so that everyone in the U.S. has affordable, quality health care.

Dr. Don Pfost resides in Pueblo.