Dec 082008
Authors: Elyse Jarvis

As nearly 20 percent of Coloradans lack health insurance, State Rep. John Kefalas, D-Colo., said Monday that he will begin the “necessary” process of pressuring the federal government to support a bill, to be drafted this week, set to guarantee healthcare for every Coloradan.

If passed into law, the measure will provide comprehensive treatment for every state resident, transitioning Colorado into a publicly-financed health care system.

Kefalas said funding for the proposed statewide health care coverage has not yet been finalized, but he said tentatively that business owners and tax payers would be responsible for paying a premium dollar amount according to their individual means.

At some point, he said, health care may become a part of payroll tax.

“There is momentum building in the discussion of universal health care,” Kefalas said. “Passing such a bill would signal significant change, and proposing it continues the discussion of what the best health care model for the state is.”

Kefalas said he anticipates a “spirited discussion” from opponents of the bill.

“Something like this requires a lot of deliberation,” Kefalas said.

Bob McCluskey, Kefalas’ opponent this year for the state representative seat, Chelsey Penoyer, CSU College Republicans chair, and Bobby Carson, a former CSU student who campaigned for McCluskey this year, did not return calls for comment.

The bill will go before the legislature in January, as it requires a signature from Gov. Bill Ritter, D-Colo., before it can become law.

Speaking in Denver last Friday, Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., said health care reform is vital and failure to promote that reform is “not an option.”

The number of state residents who have insurance with a high co-payment is far greater than the 17 percent of Coloradans without insurance, Kefalas said, and unemployment numbers rose to 6.7 percent last month.

He said state legislative decisions will have a significant role in determining how funding for health care nationwide will work.

“This is an exciting thing, despite all of the economic problems the nation faces right now,” he said. “We can’t afford to not do anything about this issue.”

News Managing Editor Elyse Jarvis can be reached at

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