END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

Colorado: ColoradoCare runs into a snag with NARAL...

Last month I wrote an extensive piece about Colorado's Amendment 69 initiative, aka "ColoradoCare", which would be the latest attempt to achieve a state-level single payer healthcare system (or at least near-single payer; if enacted, it would replace all current healthcare coverage except for Medicare, the VA/TriCare and the Indian Health Service).

While I was generally supportive of the idea overall, I also concluded that:

For me, however, ColoradoCare addresses many of the criticisms I've had of Bernie's plan. I'm not necessarily "endorsing" it (I still have a lot more to learn about the details and the criticisms before I can do so), but the bottom line is that it's more realistic and far better thought out than Bernie's national plan is. This is the best opportunity for achieving single payer that you're likely to see anytime soon.

My larger point was that IF you're someone who is dead set on achieving Single Payer in the United States, you should focus your energy as much as possible on getting CoCare passed, because this is the best shot you'll have at doing so.

Anyway, one of those "details and criticisms" popped up this week (thanks to Alan Kestrel for bringing it to my attention):

The ballot campaign to create universal health care in Colorado drew an unlikely and prominent opponent this week: NARAL ProChoice Colorado, one of the state’s leading abortion rights groups.

The organization — more accustomed to fighting to expand health care services — is opposing Amendment 69 because it worries that the measure could limit access to abortion care.

Under NARAL’s legal interpretation, a constitutional ban on using “public funds” for abortion approved by voters in 1984 would prohibit Colorado Care from covering the procedure because it would be a political subdivision of the state.

...ColoradoCareYES, the group behind Amendment 69, disputes NARAL Colorado’s legal interpretation.

Ralph Ogden, the group’s attorney, argues in a memorandum that if the amendment is approved by voters in November, it would supersede prior amendments — including the 1984 ban on publicly funded abortion services in Article V, section 50 of the Colorado Constitution.

This is almost identical to one of the many concerns I (and many others) have expressed about Bernie's national SP proposal: The Hyde Amendment prohibits any federal funds from being used to perform abortions, but a national single payer plan would mean that all healthcare services would be paid for using federal funds...meaning that any woman who needed an abortion would have to pay the full price out of her own pocket unless some private charity/donations helped her out.

Until today, I assumed that ColoradoCare would resolve this issue by simply making sure that abortions are paid for using the state-based portion of the tax revenue instead of the federal portion...but it appears that CO has their own state-level law on the books similar to Hyde at the federal level.

Now, I'm not an attorney; I have no idea whether NARAL or Mr. Ogden are correct in their interpretation, and of course the Colorado Supreme Court may feel differently regardless...but this development does, if nothing else, serve as another reminder of just how politically, legally and structurally it is to convert to a single payer healthcare system even if you're able to provide the necessary funding to do so.