Guv bashes Colorado Care, irking some fellow Dems

Cast Aluminum Doctor with Stethoscope (New Kensington, PA)

ColoradoCare, the November ballot measure that seeks to set up a single-payer health care system in Colorado, recently got a thumbs-down from Gov. John Hickenlooper. His comments indicate the $25 billion proposal is causing an inter-party squabble with fellow Democrats who back the measure.

Hickenlooper talked about ColoradoCare at a Jan. 6 meeting hosted by the Colorado Forum. But his remarks came to light only this week, because reporters who attempted to cover the Governor’s speech were kicked out of the meeting.

Complete Colorado, a conservative online news organization, filed an open records request to get the Governor’s comments, and released them yesterday, along with the complete audio recording.

“I can’t imagine there’s any chance that [ColoradoCare] will pass,” Hickenlooper told the audience. “But I can tell you there are a couple [of] large health care related companies that are looking at moving their headquarters here, and they saw that, that that’s going to be on the ballot, and, and they paused.”

Hickenlooper’s remarks came as a surprise to Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, the “force behind the creation of ColoradoCare,” according to the measure’s website. She told The Colorado Independent today that her understanding was that the Governor would stay neutral on the issue.

Aguilar added that she plans to speak to the Governor’s staff about his comments.

Hickenlooper’s remarks were cheered by Tony Gagliardi, who heads the Colorado chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. “We’re pleased to see the governor come out publicly against this,” he told The Independent. The cost, estimated at $25 billion, is more than the size of the entire state government, Gagliardi noted.

“We congratulate the Governor for standing up and saying ‘No, this isn’t in the best interests of Coloradans’,” Gagliardi said.

This afternoon, Hickenlooper issued a statement through a spokesperson that said the state had made great strides in expanding access to affordable, quality health care. Reforms are “just beginning to bear fruit, and it would be premature to dramatically remake our health care system at this time.”

“While we do not support this proposal, we respect the motives of those behind it,” Hickenlooper said.

Photo credit: takomabibelot, Creative Commons, Flickr

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.


  1. As a physician, I can actually take better care of each one of you for less than you’re paying now! We all know that but change is difficult.

  2. It’s not too surprising that our purple governor is not willing to show strong support for ColoradoCare. Most of our politicians are scared of it because they don’t know whether their support would gain them or cost them votes.

    It’s too bad politicians can’t just vote for what’s best for the people of Colorado, which ColoradoCare clearly is. Keeping their jobs is too often more important to them than doing their jobs.

  3. “The cost, estimated at $25 billion, is more than the size of the entire state government, Gagliardi noted.”

    What Mr. Gagliardi did not mention here is that Colorado already spends about $36.3 billion in health care costs. So $25 billion is about $11 billion less, with coverage for all colorado residents, no cost shifting, no deductibles and co-pays, which make health care unattainable for so many Colorado residents. I also wonder how much the NFIB is funded by the medical-industrial complex to say this stuff.

  4. In the long term, single payer is the only sensible option – who doesn’t need/deserve health care? Whose children should be denied well visits with a doctor. Should it only be for those who can afford it? Are insurance companies actually doing anything to improve health, or are they just middlemen out to make a profit? Obviously, single payer isn’t going to happens long as Republicans, fat and happy with Koch dollars, rule the roost. So, for now, the poor will continue to receive inadequate care, and will rely on the emergency room when things get out of hand (so we end up paying either way). I disagree with the Guv, but he’s taking the conservative approach (in more ways than one).

  5. ColoradoCare places a 10 percent tax on all income, either as a payroll tax or as an income tax. People with pre-paid healthcare, Medicare or Service-Connected Disabled Veterans, must pay this ten percent tax, but are prohibited from receiving any benefit from their contribution of 1/10th of their income. Hardly a fair or practical proposal!

  6. There is about 5.5 m people in CO. Of that how many do you think are on medicare / Tricare / va or indian health services? We are guessing a million at least because we have a lot of people older then 65 or disabled who get it; a lot of military or retirees; a lot of dod retirees and native americans. All of these would still be paying for it plus their usual health care premimums. You think this is right or they can afford 2 premimums?

    Second issue we have is the board is appointed with no accountability. If they are getting x amount of money and they feel they need y more; they can just raise the rates people are paying. We have that right now with the library districts in our state. The Arapahoe Library District where we live since 1988; has 253500 residents with a budget of over 20 m. They decided they needed 6 million more so they put it on the ballot and they lied or mislead to get it passed. They also used their non profit foundation to fund the cost of this ballot issue. They handed over to the library district $50000 to fund it and this is most of what they raised to run this issue. This foundation also doesn’t have to disclose where they ? got their money from. Our library districts in CO are a local govt. Do we really think its right for a local govt to just use their non profit foundation to help them pass a tax increase?

  7. part 2 Do we know this is not going to happen with the board for CO Care? Do we want to bet on it?

    Third issue; you notice they said all CO. That includes illegals. This would be the third incentive for illegals to come to CO and get more subsidizes from the legal residents of our state. The first 2 being drivers licenses and in state tuition. The latter costs over 1 million per year and going up. Don’t know how much the former costs. Our budget has to balance so this comes out of services to our legal residents.

    We have US citizens and legal residents who cant afford their premimums now. We have the same who don’t have dental or vision care so they do without and yet we are going to give illegals free health coverage? and if you are going to tell us they are going to be paying it due to the pay roll taxes; we would like to know how? Many illegals do 1099 work which the state allows though they could stop it under SCOTUS rulings. 1099 work is independent contractor work and there is no taxes or ss taken out. US citizens have to pay taxes on what they earn as the IRS comes after us. How does the IRS come after illegals? They don’t!

  8. It would be one thing if this was a true single payer system like Canada or the UK. Its not though.

    They would be getting 25 billion dollars to cover 4.5 or so million people while the over 1 million continue to get care from the federal govt; the military; the va or the indian health care while having to pay the cost of CO Care too.

    How exactly is this going to save money with so many people excluded? Got to wonder and when you call them as you cant figure out the info on the website; the calls don’t get answered.

  9. Doctors, do some research to see what your counterparts are paid in single pay countries. You may not like what you find. I’ll give you a hint… Do you accept Medicaid? What do they pay you? Well, you can expect the same or less if everyone is getting “free” health care.

  10. Sounds like the Guv is using good sense for a change and this was already attempted in Vermont and they discoverd it was WAY TO EXPENSIVE just like Obama Care. If this is passed we’ll be forced to move to another state and take our business with us.

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