Amendment 69 is bad for business, bad for military retirees, bad for entrepreneurs. It’s bad for health care.
The proposed amendment to the Colorado constitution would create a single-payer system in the state, replacing health insurance with a state agency to oversee how health care dollars are spent throughout the state.
Essentially, that means an appointed committee would contract with health care providers for services and pharmacies for medicine. It would be responsible for administering Medicare and Medicaid, children’s health care programs and any other federal health care dollars.
The cost of the program — known as ColoradoCare — would be paid for with a 10 percent payroll tax — 6.7 percent paid for by the business, 3.3 percent paid by employees. Micro-owned businesses or independent contractors would be responsible for the entire 10 percent.
Amendment 69 would drive up the cost of business for small- and medium-sized companies and introduce an element of uncertainty in health care for all Colorado’s residents. The board as proposed is not elected, has far too much control and not enough oversight.
It’s a dangerous experiment — one Colorado can ill afford to start. There’s already a caregiver shortage in Colorado Springs, too few doctors for the city’s ever-growing population. And if there’s uncertainty about payments and who’s approving care for patients, the doctors currently here could very well move to other states.
Colorado’s constitution shouldn’t be used as a dumping ground for all the measures that can’t get past the General Assembly. Amending the constitution to experiment with health care means changing the law will be difficult, complex and expensive. And if voters choose to make it harder to amend the constitution — also on the ballot — Colorado could be stuck with the health care system.
Consider not only the smallest businesses and the increased tax burden they would bear — but large multinational corporations would have to navigate a completely different system in Colorado. Their employees here wouldn’t be able to have the same insurance provider that the rest of their workers have. It could keep companies out of Colorado by adding unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens.
Amendment 69 would hinder job growth and creation. A 10 percent payroll tax increase means the state’s taxes would be the highest in the nation — a definite black mark for companies interested in moving to or expanding in Colorado. In addition, military retirees would have to pay 10 percent of their pensions to the program — and since they’ll remain in the TriCare system, they’ll have none of the benefits.
A similar proposal was pulled in Vermont after its main proponent, Gov. Peter Shumlin, acknowledged the fault: There was no way to pay for it. And Vermont was asking for more money: premiums of up to 9.5 percent of people’s incomes in addition to an 11.5 percent payroll tax increase.
It’s clear that Colorado can’t come up with the money needed to make the plan work.
There’s no doubt that there needs to be a solution to the ever-rising cost of health care. Rising premiums mean that businesses are increasingly struggling to meet the financial requirements of providing health insurance as a benefit.
But ColoradoCare is not the solution.