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A single-payer health care system: How would it affect workers’ comp?

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2016 | Workers' Compensation |

Colorado is no stranger to cutting-edge ballot initiatives. Four years ago, the issue was of course legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.

This year, another potentially path-breaking proposal is on the ballot. Amendment 69, also known as ColoradoCare, would amend the state constitution to put in place a single-payer system for health care. Colorado would be the first American state to adopt such a system, which already exists in Canada and Europe.

Polls have given conflicting indication about whether ColoradoCare will pass. In this post, we will use a Q & A format to address how it would affect medical benefits under the workers’ compensation system.

What exactly does the ColoradoCare proposal call for?

The proposal known as ColoradoCare would create a single-payer system for medical care in Colorado. More specifically, it would amend the state constitution in order for this to happen. It is also known as Amendment 69.

The newly created state system would provide payment for eligible services for Colorado residents without health insurance. Supporters of the proposal contend that there are 360,000 people in Colorado who don’t have insurance.

The new system would also provide supplementary coverage for people who don’t have enough private insurance to pay for services covered by the state system.

How would the new system be funded?

Supporters of the ColoradoCare proposal argue that it will control constantly-rising costs in the health care system by giving the single payer the power to control prices in the market. The proposal would not turn health care providers into state workers. But the reimbursements for providers would change

The new system would be funded by a new payroll tax of 10 percent. Two-thirds of that would be paid by employers and one-third by employees.

Would there still be private insurance?

Yes. Medicare, the Veterans’ Administration and certain other federally-run programs would also continue. But everyone in Colorado would still have to pay the taxes for ColoradoCare, even if they have an alternative form of health coverage.

What are the main concerns about the proposal?

Opponents are of course concerned about the cost. Implementing the proposal would cost $25 billion, which is nearly as much as the existing state budget.

The effect of these tax increases could harm the state’s economy. It could also negatively affect specialty care,

What about the effect on workers’ comp?

Some opponents of ColoradoCare contend that bringing workers’ compensation into a single-payer medical system would result in less assistance for injured workers. There is concern that services injured workers receive in getting ready to go back to work could be cut back.

It may be, however, that this view overestimates the advantages of the current system. After all, under the current system, authorized treating physicians (ATPs) for injured workers are chosen by the employer, not the employee.

To be sure, there is also concern about the uncertainties that would come from a new system. But uncertainties are not necessarily bad; sometimes they are necessary to bring in a new and better system.

Your situation, right now

No matter which system is in place, if you have been injured at work, the main thing is to get the workers’ compensation benefits you have coming to you. It makes sense to get help from a knowledgeable attorney to make that happen.


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