This November, Colorado voters will be able to strike down Proposition 69, a misguided ballot initiative that would help create the first single payer health insurance system in the nation. The initiative calls for the abolition of health insurance premiums and replacing them with higher taxes. Such a radical policy has inspired denunciation and political action from a wide variety of public interest groups.
Amendment #69, also known as ColoradoCare, began as a statewide petition in 2015. When the requisite number of signatures was obtained last year, the Colorado Secretary of State announced that Amendment #69 would be included on the November 2016 ballot. The initiative proposes a 6.67 percent payroll tax hike that employers would pay in addition to a 3.33 percent employee tax increase. This 10 percent tax increase would replace premiums for health insurance. The newly formed ColoradoCare agency would negotiate prices and reimburse medical providers for services.
As expected, Amendment #69 has come under intense criticism, primarily from business groups. If passed, this measure could usher in a new era of universal health coverage, and, consequently, has inspired a national response from major trade groups like the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers and HCA, a major hospital conglomerate.
While Amendment #69 appears to offer universal health care, there are some compelling reasons to vote down Amendment #69.
Huge Price Tag
The cost of implementing Amendment #69 would be $25 billion, almost twice the current state budget. As we've seen when government takes on any large scale program, there are bound to be cost overruns, implementation issues and rollout problems.
Enormous Tax Hike
The 10 percent tax hike for Coloradans would decimate the business community, making the state economy almost unviable. The enormous tax burden would leave many companies insolvent and the rest would be unable to compete with other American businesses.
Limit Health Care Choices
If passed, ColoradoCare would shrink the health care market as the state's best providers would abandon the state for more lucrative markets. Eventually, the loss of competition would drive up health care costs.
Instead of suffering a ten percent tax hike, many Colorado businesses would relocate to more business friendly states. This would deprive thousands of Coloradans of their livelihood and put the welfare of their families at risk.
Hidden Decision Makers
Under Amendment #69, a 21 member board would make coverage, pricing and tax decisions. This board would not be accountable to the governor or legislature, making it free to act unilaterally.
This initiative would add an amendment to the state Constitution, making it virtually impossible to repeal or change if this untested program fails. Colorado could be saddled with an unworkable program for years or generations to come.
There are many reasons why Amendment #69 is likely to be a failure, with dire consequences for the state's economy, businesses and families. While we should continue to strive for a fair and inexpensive system to provide health care for Coloradans, Amendment #69 is not the solution.
Article written by:
Robert Moghim, M.D.
CEO, Health Carousel Locum Tenens