EDITORIAL: Vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 69 — Colorado Care is good medicine for everyone


If you’re looking for a perfect solution to Colorado’s health care quagmire, it doesn’t exist. But there is a logical, affordable way out of the state’s dire health insurance dilemma, and it starts by voting “yes” on Amendment 69.

Few things have been studied as intensely as America’s health care industry. And yet few things remain as obscure and convoluted as to why the United States pays vastly more for health care than any other modern nation in the world. Make no mistake, we do.

The search for answers isn’t academic. The personal, business and governmental cost of health care threatens the U.S. and Colorado economies like nothing else. The cost of health care especially threatens the middle class in Colorado and across the country more than any other economic woe. While wealthier Americans are luckily immune to the most serious effects of overpriced health care, and expanded national programs have created a huge relief to the country’s poorer citizens, the middle class suffers immensely. And it’s going to get much worse if something doesn’t change now.

Not only have prices for health care continued to skyrocket, anyone who’s been to a provider recently knows that appointments are harder to get, made further out, and the bureaucracy to get to a provider can be overwhelming.

If you live in rural Colorado, health care can practically be non-existent.

The reasons why American health care costs continue to spiral out of the reach of middle-class Americans are as plentiful as the players involved. Here is the underlying problem: Not only are almost all providers of health care, health insurance and drugs for-profit entities, they’re often massive, high-yield corporations whose priority is their bottom line — not your well-being.

Not only is health care in countries like Japan, Norway, Germany and others vastly more affordable, it is often rated superior to our own. Believing otherwise is part of the problem. Denial doesn’t make health care any better or cheaper.

We can’t have what they’ve got because the groups that make the most off of illness and disease also have the most clout in Congress and the Colorado Legislature.

So Amendment 69 comes to you as a citizen-initiative because special-interest insurance, drug companies, many hospitals and providers fear a loss of profits in a single-payer system that saves residents, businesses and taxpayers billions of dollars.

It only makes sense. If Amendment 69 reduces net spending on health care in Colorado, somebody’s going to be making less money, and they’re going to fight to prevent it.

These are health-care businesses that have become nearly predatory in the United States and Colorado. Unregulated providers, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and others have been free to gouge Americans because Congress was unable to enact critical controls when it created the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Because there was no “public option” and no way to stop or even slow the spiraling health care costs that led to the need of the Obamacare, costs have continued to mushroom.

Colorado Care picks up where Obamacare left off. This common-sense program is a taxpayer owned and operated health-insurance plan that covers everyone who lives here. If approved, all Colorado residents would be able to enjoy pretty much the same benefits that Medicare and Medicaid recipients are allowed.

This isn’t government insurance, however, in that the government collects taxes for the program, but then turns the money over to a large board of specially elected representatives that guide the program, essentially free of state and federal government — and lobbyist — intervention. Representatives will act only on your behalf, and not that of industry profits and turf wars.

The plan means you and your employer no longer have to pay exorbitant insurance premiums, co-pays or deductibles. And for most Colorado residents, the difference between new taxes for the program and what you pay now for health care in insurance premiums and uncovered costs will mean serious net savings.

It means better health care and more health care choices for everyone, and more money for you at the end of the month and the end of the year.

It’s not magic, nor is it a myth, it’s just a system that works all over the world because the priority is access to quality and controlling costs — it’s the opposite of a system dictated by corporate profits and market control.

Under Amendment 69, you keep and choose your doctor and hospitals. You don’t make co-payments or have deductibles for primary and specialized care. You can still have outside insurance if you don’t want Colorado Care, or you can buy insurance to supplement it, even though it appears unnecessary. If you qualify for and have Medicaid and Medicare, you keep it. If Obamacare changes, Colorado Care changes right along with it.

The plan not only saves most Colorado residents money, it save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in government-provided health insurance for teachers, firefighters, police officers, engineers and myriad government jobs and workers.

The money to run the program comes from a new income tax: 3.3 percent for you, and 6.6 percent for each employee, paid by your employer. Not only does the new tax create a net saving immediately, the savings grow because the cost of private health insurance in Colorado and across the country is expected to continue to spiral out of control.

Lawmakers in Washington and the Colorado Capitol have signaled they have no plan for controlling costs that will make it the desk of the next president nor the governor, and residents here can no longer afford government’s failure to act. The cost of their inaction is destroying the financial health of the middle class and the state itself.

In a better world, we would create a very different type of system to fund health care. But in the real world, the system we had before Obamacare, and the system we have now will collapse.

Universal health care is as inevitable as was legalized marijuana, where Colorado also was courageous and wise enough to lead the way. What will cement Colorado Care’s success is when other states follow, creating a solid system that serves patients and not just profits. They will follow.

Despite the fear-mongering scare tactics of Colorado Care critics and those who simply parrot them, the plan has safeguards installed that call for a comprehensive and workable system before it even rolls out. If the system can’t work or isn’t tenable, it has to end, and we bring back the high-profit insurance industry. The real risk isn’t so much that there are unanswered questions about the plan, but that it’s impossible to know the full effect until it begins working.

What we do know, is that plans like this work all over the world, and the only reason why they don’t work here is because industry lobbyists won’t let state and federal lawmakers make it happen.

Vote “yes” on Amendment 69 ,and create a Colorado that’s healthier for people, the economy and our personal finances.