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GUEST COLUMN: Amendment 69 is an unmitigated disaster for Coloradans

By: Bob Gardner
April 3, 2016 Updated: April 3, 2016 at 8:09 am
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Coloradans: Would you like all your health care decisions for the next three years to be made by 15 unelected government bureaucrats? That's what Amendment 69, which has qualified for this fall's ballot, would mandate.

Before you answer, here's a few additional facts to help you decide.

These 15 "trustees" - a fancier word for bureaucrats, by the way - would get to say which procedures and which drugs would be covered by insurance and which ones wouldn't from 2017 until 2020. How would they get that power? Amendment 69 makes it illegal for any other health insurance company to do business in the state of Colorado. And when those companies are all gone, all decisions about any kind of payment to anyone in the health care system fall under the thumb of those unelected trustees.

They'd get to decide how long you should have to wait in the emergency room, how many months your elderly mother should have to wait for hip replacement surgery, and what treatments for your kids will and won't be paid for.

If you don't like the sound of that system, you should know there'll be no opting out. If you're wealthy, you could pay for health care from your pocket. Otherwise, your family's care exists solely at the whim of the 15 bureaucrats.

Don't like it? Move to Nebraska if it's enacted. Because if we Coloradans go down this road, there'll be no appeals, no flexibility and no choice in health care in our state.

It gets worse.

In 2020 at the latest, Amendment 69 says we'll hold statewide elections to replace the 15 appointed bureaucrats with 21 elected bureaucrats.

That's right - we'll have giant campaigns across Colorado every other year to pick new health care czars. "A vote for me is a vote for liver transplants!" or "Two nose jobs in every house - vote for me!" An unending buzz of negative TV ads about how the trustee candidate's evil opponent is trying to take away childbirth reimbursement or how their vote backed up back surgeries.

Sounds ridiculously unappealing, doesn't it?

Obamacare's been bad enough - its promised savings cruelly turning into a 13.4 percent average rate increase this year - but Amendment 69 will make things much worse. Its ironclad regime of single-payer health care for every resident of the state, without exception, would almost double Colorado's state taxes overnight. It imposes an immediate 10 percent across-the-board payroll tax that would cost Coloradans a jaw-dropping $25 billion in additional taxes on top of the $27 billion the state already levies. And the whole system is specifically designed to exist outside of TABOR limits that control state and local government taxation in Colorado.

So who's behind this nonsense?

Great question. Colorado State Sen. Irene Aguilar has been identified as one of the "leaders" of the campaign, but the funding sources are much more shadowy, with a Boulder psychologist, a Littleton physician, a Denver attorney, and a Fort Collins retiree being identified as collectively donating more than $140,000 to the cause.

Why those four people would have such a burning passion to control our health care isn't clear to me.

What is clear is that we shouldn't let them.

The net effect of this disastrous plan would be to drive state taxes through the roof, kill job creation (and likely most economic growth) in Colorado, and institute health care rationing for all Coloradans. All at the hands of a mysterious group of health care ideologues who'll do their bidding through a shadow "health care Legislature" with literal power over life and death decisions.

Even Gov. John Hickenlooper was caught on tape saying he "can't imagine there's any chance (Amendment 69) will pass," and noting that some large companies considering moving their headquarters to Colorado have put their plans on hold with Amendment 69 even on the ballot. It would make our state singularly economically uncompetitive and hurt the very people it claims it would help.

Just like Obamacare before it, Amendment 69 is an attempt to sell a bill of goods - sweet-sounding words about universal coverage, better benefits, and cost savings from efficiencies driven by an all-seeing, all-knowing government.

And it will turn out just as badly in the end. The difference is that Amendment 69 is a disaster we can all prevent from happening this fall at the ballot box.

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Bob Gardner is a Colorado Springs attorney and former Colorado state representative.

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