IMPORTANT VOTING INFORMATION
Background: The Democratic candidates each put forward their own health care plan -- but whether it can win approval in a gridlocked Congress is a question that remains. If the next administration fails to pass its health care initiative, expect states like Colorado to continue to try their hand at state-level programs. Colorado is working on a public option plan run by private insurers, while a handful of other states have expressed interest in developing government-run, single-payer plans. But the hurdles to state efforts abound, including receiving federal approval and figuring out how to pay for it.
Favors public option that could cover state Medicaid population
A: He favors a public option “like Medicare.” The Biden campaign did not respond to questions, so it’s unclear how he would respond to a state single-payer system in Colorado. But Biden’s health plan does include one provision that could affect Colorado’s public option push. Biden says states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act -- as Colorado did -- could move the expansion population to a “premium-free public option” run by the federal government, as long as states continue to pay a share of the cost. It’s not clear whether this would help Colorado.
Supports single-payer, government plan at federal level
A: Sanders supports a single-payer system run by the government, what he calls “Medicare for All,” which he pledged to introduce in his first week in office. The idea failed at the state level in Vermont, but Sanders has suggested any effort short of single-payer is the wrong approach. In its response, the campaign did not address Colorado’s efforts.
A transition to “Medicare of All” over time
A: Warren has proposed transitioning to a “Medicare for All” system within her first three years in office. Her plan would immediately lower the eligibility age of Medicare to 50. Children under 18 and families making less than double the federal poverty level would be able to opt-in to Medicare for free, while everyone else can buy in. After this trial period, Warren proposes adopting Medicare for All by her third year in office.
At the state level, Warren has proposed allowing state single-payer innovation waivers that would allow states to start experimenting with single-payer programs of their own. Colorado voters rejected a single-payer plan on the 2016 ballot, but Gov. Jared Polis is pushing for a public option with terms mandated by the state.
Colorado’s rejection of single-payer shows public option is better
A: Bloomberg is not a fan of a single-payer system and prefers a public option that competes against private insurance. He even points to the fact that Colorado “backed away from single-payer proposals after realizing how expensive and difficult they would be to implement” -- a reference to Amendment 69, the failed 2016 ballot measure known as ColoradoCare. In response to Colorado’s current public-option efforts, the candidate suggested the state can apply for a waiver, but didn’t say whether his administration would approve it. Still, he added, he would encourage states to experiment with new approaches “as long as they have strict guardrails to protect patients and health care outcomes.”
Public option will increase competition and lower prices
A: Steyer supports a public option, rather than “Medicare for All,” saying he opposes a single-payer system “because I don’t like the idea of telling Americans who are getting their health care through their employer that they don’t have a choice.” Steyer did not respond directly to the question about whether his administration would assist state-run plans. But his stance suggests he may be more supportive of a state-level public option, like what’s being pushed in Colorado, than a state-run, single-payer system. At the federal level, he argues that competition from the government will drive down the cost of private insurance, drugs and hospital care.
Plan could help Colorado reinsurance program
A: Her health care plan expresses support for a federal public option, but doesn’t specify whether to offer it through Medicaid or Medicare, or how it would impact coverage in Colorado. One particular aspect of her plan could help the state. Colorado just implemented a temporary reinsurance program and Klobuchar wants to make it easier for states to offer.