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Colorado voters defeat single-payer ballot measure, approve aid-in-dying law

Amendment 69 would have guaranteed health coverage, replacing most private health insurance and taking over the state's Medicaid program.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Voters in Colorado overwhelmingly defeated a measure in their state to create a single-payer, state-based universal health system.

Amendment 69, called ColoradoCare, would have guaranteed health coverage, replacing most private health insurance and taking over the state's Medicaid program starting in 2019. Medicare and current health coverage for veterans, military personnel and civilian defense employees would not have been effected.

Payroll taxes of $25 billion were needed to fund the new system, but the nonpartisan Colorado Health Institute estimated that ColoradoCare's costs would have exceeded its budget by $8 billion, published reports said.

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Voters were unsure whether they would pay more or less for health coverage, according to the Denver Post.

Proposition 106, the medical aid-in-dying proposal, passed that allows the terminally ill to get prescribed medication to end their life.

The medication would be made available to those with six months or less to live after two doctors agree on the patient's prognosis, according to news reports.

ColoradoCare was defeated 80 to 20 percent. Tuesday's defeat marked the second failure of single-payer in Colorado. The first time was in 2011.

The initiative faced opposition from numerous bipartisan groups,  the health insurance industry and the Colorado Medical Society. A survey found that while 78 percent of members of the Colorado Medical Society said they would vote "no" on the amendment, many revealed low satisfaction with the current healthcare system. If ColoradoCare failed, 62 percent of members of the medical society said they wanted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to pursue reforms to the current system. Another 27 percent said they wanted sweeping healthcare reform, according to the Colorado Medical Society.

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Single payer in Colorado had the support of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who as candidate for president pushed for such a system he called Medicare for all.

Vermont in the past has also defeated a single payer system but this year went to an all-payer system in which all payers in the state pay a provider the same, set amount for services. This does not mean that all hospitals and physicians are paid the same amount, for the same service.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse