Catron: Summit County doctor’s top-ten reason to vote no on Amendment 69 (column)
Coloradans will vote this November on Amendment 69 (ColoradoCare), an expensive and risky scheme for a single payer health care plan in our state. Supporters unrealistic claims that they can use the savings generated by eliminating private insurance companies and their costs to expand “platinum level” care to all residents of our state without co-pays or deductibles do not withstand scrutiny. As a local physician and business owner who cares for my patients and the community and deals with the problems of our current system everyday, I want to share my top ten reasons to vote NO on Amendment 69:
1. The numbers don’t add up. The non-partisan Colorado Health Institute’s independent analysis of Amendment 69 predicts that after the first year it will run deficits every year in the first 10 years with the ANNUAL deficit reaching $7.8 billion by the 10th year. That’s a deficit of almost $1500 per Colorado resident in the 10th year alone!
2. The proposed savings are not realistic. When applied to my practice, an analysis of Amendment 69 reveals that the projected administrative savings to medical professionals is wildly overstated by 200 to 300 percent. Our state’s medical providers cannot withstand these cuts to their reimbursement for unrealistic “savings” that will never materialize.
3. Proposed coverage is “yet to be determined.” Amendment 69 asks us to trust an (initially) unelected, unaccountable 21 member board (with no medical experience required) to “figure it all out” after we amend our state constitution. Sounds kind of like “we have to pass it so that you can find out what’s in it!”
4. Our coverage for medical care while in other states is also “yet to be determined” and could require additional insurance like the insurance travelers from the United Kingdom must purchase when they travel to assure they are covered.
5. Seniors are hurt too. After paying the Medicare tax for the last several decades, Medicare beneficiaries who work and make more than social security income will be taxed at 3.3 percent to 10 percent and are not assured to receive any significant additional benefits.
6. Lower-income earners who currently receive Medicaid will pay 3.3 percent to 10 percent additional payroll tax for no additional benefits.
7. How will we keep our own state’s medical school graduates when we cut physician’s ability to repay their (average $166,750) medical school debt? This debt burden is even larger in many cases considering CU is one of the most expensive public medical schools in the U.S.
8. In order to qualify for coverage under the new plan, a person simply has to assert that they are a Colorado resident. There is no language in the amendment which requires any length of time to actually be domiciled in the state before obtaining benefits. The potential explosion in costs to Colorado taxpayers associated with caring for the under and uninsured who come from other states has not been adequately taken into account in this plan.
9. As an OB/GYN physician, I am particularly concerned that access to certain reproductive services currently covered by insurance will be lost as health care spending under Amendment 69 will be subject to currently existing Colorado constitutional limitations on state spending.
10. The cost of Amendment 69’s failure won’t be borne by its proponents, it will be borne by all Coloradans for years, or decades, to come with the loss of quality medical care, loss of medical practitioners and damage to our state’s economy.
Governor Hickenlooper, the Colorado Medical Society, ProgressNow and diverse groups from across the political and economic spectrum in our state have come out against Amendment 69 as risky and wrong for Colorado.
While we can all agree that our current system of health care financing has many problems and we need real solutions, this is not the answer. Please join me in voting NO on Amendment 69.
Andrew C. Catron, MD, OB/GYN physician at Swan Mountain Women’s Center, PC
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