Famed linguist, author, and public intellectual Noam Chomsky is backing a campaign to make Colorado the first state in the nation with universal healthcare.
The proposal he’s talking up is Amendment 69, also known as ColoradoCare, which will be on the statewide ballot for voters to decide in November.
“The US health care system has about twice the per capita spending of other developed societies and relatively poor outcomes,” Chomsky said in a statement, which he later confirmed via email. “There is ample evidence that this unfortunate state of affairs is related to the fact that the US is alone among these societies in lacking some form of universal health care.”
Chomsky, a prolific writer and commentator on public life who is a professor emeritus at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, called ColoradoCare “a great idea, which should be extended to the whole country.”
That’s similar to what Bernie Sanders said in October in a statement to this publication.
“Colorado could lead the nation in moving toward a system to ensure better health care for more people at less cost,” Sanders told The Colorado Independent.
For his part, Chomsky noted how significant progress has started with initiatives at the state level before going national.
“For such reasons the ColoradoCare initiative is very much to be welcomed,” he said. “It will not only be of great benefit to the people of Colorado, but may also be an opening wedge to substantial progress for the country as a whole.”
Reached by e-mail, Chomsky referred to his statement.
“Don’t have much to add,” he said.
If voters pass ColoradoCare, it would amend the state’s constitution to create a co-op that would do for all Coloradans what Medicare does for seniors by administering coverage via a 21-member board. The $25 billion being generated for the program would come from a 10 percent payroll tax. Employees would pay 3.33 percent and employers would pay and 6.67 percent, and would not have to pay insurance premiums, co-pays or deductibles for primary care, its supporters say. (Colorado already collects 5 percent in income taxes to fund state government.)
If voters pass the ballot measure for universal health care, Colorado would still need a green light from the feds— and the country would have a new president by the time such a system would be able to even assemble. Realistically, under the most optimistic of circumstances, the soonest it could happen would likely be January of 2018.
The plan has divided Democrats in Colorado, and free-market groups like Americans for Prosperity are campaigning against the measure. Proponents gathered enough signatures across Colorado to get the initiative on the ballot.
Chomsky, who has authored more than 100 books and is widely known across the globe, is perhaps the most high-profile supporter of the measure other than Sanders. A documentary about Chomsky came out last year called Requiem for The American Dream.
Photo credit: Andrew Rusk, Creative Commons, Flickr