Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign is winding down, and hopes on the left of a national attempt at a public health care system that would replace the Affordable Care Act are winding down with it. But Colorado might just take a crack at it on its own.
On Election Day in November, Coloradans will be voting on a ballot measure on instituting ColoradoCare, a public health care system that by many measures resembles Sanders' proposal for a "Medicare-for-all" system. As the New York Times reports, if the measure passed it would kick into gear in 2019 and set up a massive health cooperative, establish universal coverage and eliminate deductibles.
The plan has a $38 billion price tag and would be paid for with new payroll and investment income taxes, but if all goes according to a plan, it would end up saving money for people in the state in the long run.
Advocates for ColoradoCare have their work cut out for them. The Times reports that business interests, insurance groups, Republican and Democratic lawmakers — including the state's current and previous governor — have already begun to push back against it. They're inclined to stick with and improve upon the private model as enhanced by the Affordable Care Act, and have painted the up-front costs as a non-starter. Colorado also has a history of aversion to tax increases, and in the 1990s passed a "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" through a ballot measure that amended the state constitution to strictly restrict spending.
But if there's any year for unorthodox policies that challenge the institutional status quo to gain traction, this would be it. Advocates for public health care in the state are just going to have to do a better job than Sanders did of selling it.