A group of well-organized advocates wants to experiment with Colorado’s health care industry — and the experiment could damage not only the health of the economy, but also the health of every person in the state.

Amendment 69 was written to create a single-payer system unlike any other in the nation. The constitutional amendment, if passed by Colorado voters in November, eventually would create a state agency to act as a health insurance company — approving doctor visits, surgeries and overnight hospital stays. The agency would be financed through a 10 percent payroll tax, with 6 percent paid for by companies, 3 percent by workers and 1 percent from “non-payroll income.”

The plan, called ColoradoCare, would have no copayments for designated preventive services, no deductibles and would cover both preventive and long-term health care needs for everyone. Even prescription medicine, mental health and pediatric services would be covered. It replaces workers compensation insurance, to some extent, with private insurers only responsible for covering missed-work payments.

Advocates say it will streamline health care in Colorado, making it easier to see a doctor and driving down costs of insurance and medicine. They say it would lower the cost of out-of-pocket health care expenses from $6.3 billion to $2 billion and drop premiums from a total of $31.2 billion under the current system to $26.7 billion under ColoradoCare.

Sounds like a great solution to an intractable problem: the rising cost of health insurance.

But maybe not.

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Some analysts say it will cost more than the $26.7 billion estimated by the amendment language. Opponents believe the state budget is already overburdened — and adding the cost of Amendment 69 would be a tremendous mistake.

Gov. John Hickenlooper opposes Amendment 69, saying that current health care reforms are just starting to bear fruit, and changing the system now is premature. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton says that the measure would “literally double the state budget” while imposing new taxes on working families. At a recent town hall meeting, Stapleton said the amendment was “very dangerous” and would give the state the highest income tax in the nation — something that could hinder economic development and job growth.

It places an unfair burden on the self-employed and sole-proprietor businesses — which would pay the entire 10 percent to the state.

There’s little accountability with the proposal. It’s designed to operate outside Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights limitations and outside state regulations. It would be run by a 21-member board with the authority to decide coverage, negotiate prices and raise taxes without oversight from the governor or the General Assembly. Would doctors and other health care providers stay in Colorado to take part in this grand experiment? Would large, multi-national companies who self-insure their workers make an exception to move to or stay in the state?

That’s one reason the bill is dangerous: It could have serious negative consequences on state economic development.

It’s a big gamble — and it’s one that will be written into the Constitution, making it difficult to change or to repeal if the experiment fails.

That’s too big a risk for Colorado businesses to afford, and there’s too much uncertainty about Amendment 69 to take a chance on whether it could be the answer to health care needs.

We should never gamble with Colorado’s health — or its economic future. 

5 COMMENTS

  1. Did the author of this piece even do any basic research? First it’s not a state agency, it’s more like a co-op where the rate payers are the owners. We would be the rate payers. The 21 member board are elected by us. They answer to us. Not some fat cat banker demanding more profits than the previous quarter. It does not double the state budget. The amendment would transfer all money collected by the state for medical insurance to be passed to the co-op along with our payroll deductions which can even be paid for in full by your employer. The average employer stands to save money in this situation even if they paid your 3% share. It’s not a hole in the state budget because TABOR means money collected for health care has to be used by health care, so unless the state is breaking the law this should not be an issue.

    Colorado Care will cover

    Medical
    Dental
    Vision

    IN FULL. That means no more 1000 dollars for a dentist, that runs out after your annual checkup and you’re on the hook for a 1000 dollar filling.

    Doctors would not have to pay for a staff to hound insurance companies for payment. They would all go one place for payment. This frees them up to hire more medical staff vs admin staff. Todays system does the opposite.

    No more ObamaCare, we would be exempt, and we would maintain full control over our healthcare. Insurers are pulling out of ObamaCare because the Justice Department stopped them from merging into a duopoly of health care companies. It would be no different than Airlines or Internet service, paying too much for worse service. This fixes the problem. Insurance companies are scared because we finally end the money train. Insurance companies by law have to spend 80% on healthcare, ColoradoCare would spend more than 90% on healthcare, it’s ran by people that will be motivated by our foot in their rear ends rather than investors. It saves businesses money, which makes Colorado more competitive with other states for jobs, and if we don’t do it first, another state will to our detriment.

    If/When Obamacare implodes it will leave millions without healthcare, and even the healthcare companies may not survive, ColoradoCare gives us a stable option that wont dissappear if the government screws up Obamacare.

    Vote Yes.

  2. The most compelling reason to oppose Prop 69, ColoradoCare, is that thousands of people from all over the world will move to Colorado to receive their “free” healthcare. People with chronic debilitating diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, Chrohn’s. SLE, MS, ALS, etc., many of whom cannot work and will not pay any of the taxes to support their care. The unelected, appointed panel that administrates this monstrosity will cut payment to Physicians, who will move out of state. Employers who cannot afford the tax increases will also move. In summary, if Prop 69 passes, sick people move in, and Doctors and Employers move out. Great for the economy! If you support single payer, it should be implemented nationwide, like Medicare.

    • they might, but we still get a better deal and in order to get this you gotta have a job so you pay into it, its not a free ride.

  3. I don’t care whether it passes or not. But I hope it does so the rich will leave Colorado and take their business elsewhere. Colorado needs to go back to nature and living off the earth. It doesn’t need to be taken over by anti-weed bureaucrats looking to make a buck.

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