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Amendment 69

Is it reasonable for Colorado voters to commit to paying for ColoradoCare without knowing what they are truly getting?

The upcoming November election has an important measure that may impact the future of your health insurance. Amendment 69 is a Colorado proposal that would create a state-operated single-player health regime. Our goal is to provide you with the important facts about the proposed Amendment, so you can make an informed decision on November 8th.

Amendment 69 was called Initiative 20 during circulation, and many supporters and members of the media refer to it as ColoradoCare. This system would contract with healthcare providers to pay for certain healthcare benefits and be responsible for administrating Medicaid, children’s basic health programs, and all other state and federal healthcare funds.

How would the state pay for ColoradoCare?

ColoradCare will be funded mostly by a new 10% payroll tax. Employers will pay 6.67% of this and employees will pay 3.33%. All employers, no matter how small, will be subject to this new tax for employees in Colorado. Contractors will be subject to pay for the entire 10% of the tax increase.  More funding will come from taxes on non-payroll income from businesses, investments, retirement, Medicaid, and other sources.

The state analysts project that the tax burden will be $25billon in the first year, more than double the current state budget. What if more funding is needed? Are taxes going be increased? Coverage cut? Or Payments to Doctors and Health Care Providers cut?

What are the options for employers?

Employers with employees outside of Colorado will have two choices:

  1. Don’t offer their Colorado employees the health insurance benefits provided to employees in other states and replace those benefits with ColoradoCare; or,
  2. Offer the same health insurance benefits for all employees and pay the payroll tax on their Colorado employees.

What is the impact to the benefits we receive and the health care providers?

Amendment 69 is not clear on what specific benefits will be provided by ColoradoCare. It describes 11 board categories of care that must be provided, but no other detail about the benefits that will be available. Since we don’t know what will and won’t be covered, employers and individuals can’t compare their current coverage to what they might get under ColoradoCare. Individuals may well end up with less coverage than they currently have. Alternatively, they could incur additional expenses to purchases supplemental coverage to equal their current coverage.

Healthcare providers (doctors, clinics, hospitals, etc.) will have to negotiate payment terms with ColoradoCare. If the business terms offered by ColoradoCare aren’t feasible, the state risks losing some of its health care workforce. Colorado will be far less attractive to specialists who provide critical care to patients with complex cases, some of which work at our Children’s Hospital.

“Because Amendment 69 is so short on details, there’s no way to know if the life-saving treatments at Children’s Hospital Colorado would be covered under this new scheme. What is clear is that if this untested experiment moves forward, we would struggle to recruit the very brightest clinicians and researchers to our campus to provide world-class care and discover the cures to tomorrow.” – Michelle Lucero, Chief Administrative Office, Children’s Hospital Colorado

Amendment 69 is short on details on the specific benefits it will provide. It is quite clear however how much this will cost, and the untold financial impact it will have on Colorado, its employers and taxpayers. It isn’t reasonable for Colorado voters to commit to paying for ColoradoCare without knowing what they are truly getting in return.