(Sen. Irene Aguilar is a proponent of Amendment 69 – Promoted by Colorado Pols)
In 2007 I had the privilege of serving on the Vulnerable Populations Task Force of Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform (Commission). This is when I first learned that the United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not provide access to basic health care for its entire population; yet we spend twice as much as almost every other developed nation. The Commission’s analysis also showed that by enacting a single payer financing system Colorado could afford full access to health care for every resident and decrease spending by $1.6 billion dollars in its first year.
Having worked as a Primary Care Physician at Denver Health for 18 years and witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of the inability to afford basic health care on people’s lives, I was ecstatic to learn that there was a solution that was both socially just and fiscally conservative. I was certain that the Commission would recommend this plan.
Imagine my dismay when I was told by the chair of the House Committee on Health and Human Services: “that’s all good and well Dr. Aguilar, but this will never happen in the United States.”
Fortunately, I turned that dismay into action. I determined to find a way to save lives (and money) and help Colorado become the first state in the nation to enact a single payer health care system.
The rest is history:
It is worth noting that the 2009 House Bill, 2011 Senate Bill and 2013 Senate Joint Resolution simply created a study group to analyze how Colorado might implement a universal health care system.
In 2015 a referendum was drafted but not introduced at the request of the Speaker of the House and her chief of staff. When this happened, a group of activists working on universal health care took action and put Amendment 69, ColoradoCare, on the ballot. With volunteers from across the state over 156,000 signatures were collected and submitted in October 2015. ColoradoCare was approved for the ballot in November 2015.