Part 2 of 3
by David Tesitor
COLORADO — As we discussed last week, the financial implications of Amendment 69 could prove to be disastrous, not only for the citizens of Colorado, but for local economies as well. For this reason, Governor John Hickenlooper has come out opposing this measure saying, “Our reforms are just beginning to bear fruit and it would be premature to remake our health care system at this time.” In addition, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton said, “The health care would literally double the budget and impose a new tax on working families.” Finally, both the Huerfano County Democrats and Republicans during their county assemblies voted on resolutions to not support this proposed amendment.
To put it in financial perspective, the additional employer tax alone mightforce some businesses to rethink how they operate and adjust their budget. Take RE-1 School District, for example. Their gross annual payroll, net of fringe benefits is approximately $3.3 million annually. The district’s tax would be an additional $220,000 per year against their already strapped budget limits. The employees would pay an extra $55,000. The largest employer in Huerfano County is the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center with an annual payroll of $14.6 million dollars. Their tab would be $978,000.
Under CO-69, all Coloradans would lose their health insurance plans, to be replaced by benefits yet to be determined, to be serviced by a 21 person, non-elected, panel yet to be identified, to include unknown providers who would service the plan.
In essence, you would have no choice in the matter of your health care. Regardless of political affiliation, demographics, or religious convictions, everyone would pay the tax and everyone would be subject to this unknown system.
We, as taxpayers, are being asked to blindly support a bill, which, admittedly, looks good on the surface, but is wrong for everyone.
The proposed increase of $25 billion in taxes is by far the largest in Colorado history, and the proposed taxes could, and likely would, increase annually, as the panel would have complete discretion to fund the insurance program by raising taxes without any accountability to the governor or legislature and without having to answer to TABOR. According to the Colorado Statesman, it would also be allowed to circumvent the voters’ rights to recall officeholders, a right guaranteed by the Colorado constitution. The panel would also set reimbursements for providers and decide on your health care.
This brings up one central concern: Should a panel of 21 members, who may or may not be medical professionals, decide your fate? The law would grant authority to create health care districts and determine what levels of care would be mandated, taking doctors out of the equation, essentially violating the most sacred bond between a doctor and patient, their confidentiality, and forcing physicians to violate their Hippocratic Oath. Because of this, doctors might choose to simply leave the state.
Additionally, doctors’ levels of reimbursement could be greatly reduced to levels where it would become ineffective to practice in the state.
There are several components to the reimbursement portion of the proposed plan. Currently, the plan would call for a Medicaid-like reimbursement system to all providers to match the current reimbursements. Medicaid now reimburses 30 cents on the dollar, less than what is traditionally negotiated by insurance companies. Hospitals are now reimbursed after the provider fees, so their income would be greatly reduced. If hospitals were forced to operate at a negative operating budget, it would not be long before they were forced out of business.
Many local practices, groups of physicians, and independent clinics would not be able to operate their practices and would, in essence, retire, move out of state, and close their doors. The only way to sustain would be to affiliate with a hospital or clinics that could operate more efficiently, but those situations would be rare. Ask any doctor if they are happy with the current Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. Statistics show many are not now accepting Medicaid and Medicare patients and, if forced to accept the unknown, would likely walk away from it, leaving your care in the hands of less- practiced physicians.