Amendment 69 is Bad for Colorado Businesses and Taxpayers

By Scott McGraw/ CCIG

Amendment 69, known as ColoradoCare, would amend Colorado’s constitution to establish a single-payer health care system in the state.

It would create the first and only such system in the nation, which is problematic for several reasons. The insurance industry, state and local chambers and a number of health care providers strongly oppose the amendment, because one state simply cannot set up a single-payer island in the midst of 49 other states using a market-based system.

The biggest issues:

• Paying for such a system amounts to a $25 billion tax increase for the state, nearly doubling the size of Colorado’s current $27 billion budget.
• Being the first state to embark on an untested system leaves open myriad questions about costs, coverage, access to care, accountability, regulation and transparency.
• Coloradans would lose their existing coverage, with no guarantee that the board of trustees overseeing the plan would replicate their former coverage.
• Amendment 69 would require the Colorado General Assembly to repeal or amend the Workers’ Compensation Act and other laws concerning the provision of medical care for workers who suffer work-related injuries and illnesses and the payment of premiums for medical benefits.

The details:

• The plan calls for a 3.33 percent payroll tax increase for employees and 6.67 percent increase for employers, as well as a 10 percent “health care premium tax” on non-payroll income. That puts a tremendous burden on small businesses and sole proprietorships.
• The 21-member board will be elected by “members of the plan,” and there are no provisions about whether the system would be regulated by, or accountable to, the state, elected officials or the people.
• Private insurance and Medicaid would go away. The Colorado insurance industry would undergo a substantial loss of jobs and income in its health care and workers’ compensation sectors.

Amendment 69 opponents “Coloradans for Coloradans” point out several less obvious problems with the measure. Because government health care programs reimburse providers at substantially lower levels than private health care insurers, Children’s Hospital Colorado has said it fears it will be unable to recruit the “best and brightest” medical talent to Colorado, threatening access to care for its residents. Future medical providers will simply go elsewhere to establish practices.

Who will be attracted to our state will be people with high health care needs, who will now have a financial incentive to take advantage of what would be the only publicly funded health care system in the nation. That will increase health care costs for everyone in Colorado.

The bottom line: Higher taxes, lack of accountability or guarantees about coverage and many other complete unknowns surrounding this amendment will make our state far less attractive to employers and employees, stifling our strong job and population gains in recent years. Businesses, individuals and health-care providers will leave or invest/grow somewhere else.