Orwick: Amendment 69 would usher in health care disaster for Colorado (column)
May 4, 2016
A letter to the editor entitled "A rare health-care opportunity" in the May 3 edition is misleading. Amendement 69 is not an opportunity; it is a threat to Colorado's future and all of ours personally.
Why do I say this? First, it creates another large governmental agency controlled by elected officials. Yes, I know it is touted as "owned and accountable to the residents of Colorado." Read the details: An initial 15-member appointed board, followed by a 21-member elected board. That's a whole new elected body, which will require a large bureaucracy to support it and do the work. It just creates a separate state government to tax and spend more money than the state currently spends. Under the amendment, the "residents of Colorado" will have no more (actually much less) control than they currently have over the state Legislature.
It will pay for all health-care services, drugs, laboratories, etc. What this means in practice is that the state will determine how much every medical professional and every healthcare organization will be paid for their services. Ask your doctor if he/she is looking forward to working for the state. Medical professionals will be seeking positions outside Colorado to protect their incomes.
The letter, written by Arden Buck, states, "With ColoradoCare, every Coloradan will be 100-percent covered — no exceptions." Well, that will be great — if we can get an appointment with one of the remaining physicians, who will likely be overrun by patients with every complaint imaginable (and many unimaginable) since there will be no cost for services. Oh, and there will certainly be those of limited means with expensive chronic problems who learn of ColoradoCare and move into the state to get "free" medical care, thus exacerbating the situation. Healthcare will be difficult to obtain, so people with resources will exit the state.
Speaking of "free," who is really going to pay? Someone must. "Medical costs will be paid through a state tax." How much of a tax? The proponents' estimate is $25 billion per year, but The New York Times estimated $38 billion per year. Those are just numbers; put into perspective, the total state budget for 2015 — one that most people believe didn't fund education properly, didn't fix our roads and bridges and lacked many other services we might wish for — was $24 billion, plus $8.7 billion of federal funds. So ColoradoCare will at least double the state budget, so it follows that it must double state taxes, which were $4,450 per person in 2015.
Where will the additional $4,450 per person ($17,800 per year for a family of 4) come from? The bill calls for a 10-percent payroll tax on all wages up to $350,000. In May, 2015, there were 2,451,490 workers in Colorado. To get $25,000,000,000 from these workers, each would worker and his/her employer would have to pay about $10,200 in taxes. At a 10-percent rate, that would be $102,000 of income. Do you make that much? Who does? Doctors, maybe, but they'll be moving out along with small business owners, entrepreneurs and those who do make $350,000 and may balk at paying $35,000 for your health care.
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Will even the projected $25 billion be enough? Who knows, but I wouldn't bet on it. But, that's no problem because ColoradoCare is exempt from TABOR, so taxes can be increased without taxpayer approval. We can't all avoid tax increases. Using "other people's money" means here in Colorado, we need to find those "other people" — "free" will become "expensive."
Then, there's the state's track record. Look at the failure of Colorado HealthOP, the state's last attempt at health insurance. I personally know several who had to scramble (and pay much more) when the state co-op shut down last fall. Do you want to trust your health to a similar group?
In addition, think about the increased privacy risks with another agency having access to your medical records and possibly your financial information. ColoradoCare will further reduce your privacy and allow yet another governmental agency direct your life.
OK, so we can be secure and won't have to worry about "bankruptcies due to exorbitant medical bills." This reminds me of a quote from Ben Franklin: "Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one." Conclusion: Voting "yes" for ColoradoCare is not a "health-care opportunity." ColoradoCare will drastically alter our enjoyment of life in Colorado.
Tim Orwick lives in Dillon.
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