ColoradoCare costly, ineffective

Health care is one of the most important issues of our time. And because it is so personal, it is also an emotional and controversial issue.

There are philosophical differences of opinion about how to balance access to health care, costs and quality of care, and the best models for doing so. Simplistically, the models include employer-provided insurance, portable patient-centered private coverage and universal public coverage.

As health care costs continue to rise and questions of access persist, some claim that the predominant employer-based model should be replaced with the universal government model.

Adding verve to the debate are competing interests of insurers, hospitals, specialty hospitals, general practice physicians, specialists, employers, patients with significant health issues, those who are healthy and political parties.

In Colorado, this debate led citizens to petition a measure onto the Nov. 8 ballot to replace the current employer-based insurance model with a government model. The measure is called Amendment 69 and would establish a new government entity called ColoradoCare.

Space doesn’t allow me to explain Amendment 69 in detail. For more background, visit the Colorado Secretary of State’s website and

While acknowledging the noble intentions of backers, Amendment 69 is poor public policy that will damage the state without fixing the costs and access issues they cite.

Here are some reasons why Amendment 69 is bad policy:

• Funding it would require one of the largest state income taxes in the nation. Funding would primarily come from an additional 10 percent tax on all income generated in Colorado.

• Farmers and small businesses are hit particularly hard by the tax. And sole proprietors paying the full 10 percent would have an effective tax rate of 14.63 percent, the highest in the country.

• Citizens earning non-payroll income will pay a 10 percent tax on rental income, taxable pensions, taxable Social Security, taxable interest, dividends, taxable refunds and credits, capital gains, taxable IRA distributions, and other income.

• It creates a huge government bureaucracy. ColoradoCare would have a budget larger than the current state budget and larger than that of American Express, Twenty First Century Fox, 3M, Sears, Nike and McDonald’s.

• Proponents say it will operate more like a co-op. Not really. It would be run by a 21-person elected body using taxpayer money. That is a mandated government monopoly, not a co-op. Worse, this elected group has basically unlimited taxing authority.

• ColoradoCare would be financially unsustainable from the very beginning, and that situation will get worse with each passing year as explained in a report issued last week by the Colorado Health Institute. The result will be ever higher taxes, care rationing and the attendant decline in the quality of care.

• Supporters say it will save people money because they aren’t paying high premiums and co-pays. Offsetting any such savings would be taxpayer costs to pay for a bureaucracy that likely will, ala Medicare, use half its revenue to support itself.

• It would be embedded into the state’s constitution, making changes extremely difficult.

Amendment 69 is bad public policy that creates more problems than it solves.

Originally published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan August 11, 2016.