Math Does Not Work for Amendment 69

In an earlier post I reported that the Chamber opposes Amendment 69, a measure on this fall’s ballot that would change the state constitution to create the country’s first state-level single-payer health care system. You can find a full background paper here.

The key reasons we believe this to be an extremely bad proposal include:

  • It is a state constitutional amendment. It is inflexible and would extremely difficult to change.
  • Amendment 69 is a huge tax increase. All earned and unearned income would be taxed at 10 percent. This is a huge burden on farmers and small business owners. At a certain level, even retirement income is taxed.
  • The politicians governing this new system, which would be larger than the existing Colorado state government, would have unlimited taxing power.
  • Amendment 69 does nothing to reform the health care system. It’s just a new payment scheme. It does nothing to address the underlying cost drivers in health care.
  • It will be a boat anchor on Colorado’s economy as it shifts over $30 billion a year out of private hands into a massive new state bureaucracy.
  • Finally, Amendment 69 is financially unsustainable.

This last point is borne out in a report released yesterday by the Colorado Health Institute. CHI reported that while Amendment 69 would more than triple the amount of taxes collected by the state it would not be enough to cover the costs. According to the report, “Simply put, the revenue would not be sufficient…the revenue from taxes and federal funds would fall just short of paying (the) bills in the first year – with widening deficits in each subsequent year.”

The inevitable results, of course, would be to:

  • pay hospitals and doctors below their costs to deliver services, which in turn will drive doctors out of the state, which in turn would lower access to care and diminish quality of care;
  • raise taxes;
  • or reduce benefits.

Amendment 69 is a financial train wreck. It is not a solution to Colorado’s health care needs.