Ed MacArthur: Amendment 69 would fund massive bureaucracy
October 17, 2016
Questions surrounding Amendment 69 (ColoradoCares) should give every Colorado taxpayer a reason to pause.
Amendment 69 gives Colorado the distinction of being the highest taxed state in the country at 14.63 percent and will cause an unprecedented exodus of wealth in our region.
The five-year economic rebound Colorado has enjoyed could be quickly negated if business and economic development emigrates to friendlier states. The net burden of this amendment is north of $36,000,000,000 (that's billion), $25 billion in new taxes and $11 billion in existing subsidies.
This information about various companies and the state of Colorado gives perspective to a $36 billion dollar budget:
• Nike, founded 1964, $30.6 billion in revenue (2015), 62,600 employees.
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• Caterpillar, founded 1925, $47.0 billion in revenue (2015), 114,233 employees.
• McDonald’s, founded 1940, $25.4 billion in revenue (2015), 420,000 employees.
• State of Colorado, founded 1876, $27.0 billion in revenue (2017 proposed), 320,650 employees.
• ColoradoCares, could begin in 2017, $36 billion in revenue (proposed), number of employees unknown.
It's safe to estimate that ColoradoCares won't need as many employees as McDonald’s but certainly won't run as lean as Caterpillar or Nike. I'd suggest that the ColoradoCares governing structure would mimic the State of Colorado in terms of employee burden comparative to budget. At 300,000 employees administering the state of Colorado budget, the underlying point remains that Amendment 69 will fund a massive new bureaucracy.
Who will manage this new organization with a magnitude larger than Nike? Ballot language indicates a 21-person elected board, whose members are not subject to any qualifications outlined in the amendment and whom cannot be recalled by the electorate.
The board will have no responsibility to the State Legislature or the governor and will be in charge of determining types of care, payments to providers and every other facet of this program. They are required to ask for tax increases by a vote of the participants, defined by age (18), residency (one-year) and with no requirement for citizenship.
Proponents of Amendment 69 proclaim an ability to retract the amendment and return Colorado to its previous stature should it not prove successful.
By the time failure is admitted, all existing insurance carriers will have left the state and so I ask — do proponents really expect insurance carriers to rebuild their infrastructure only to charge the same rates? Further, what happens to medical care in the interim?
Our state benefits from excellent doctors, nurses and first-rate hospitals with very competent staff. The salary and wage structures for these entities will be strongly influenced by Amendment 69, likely leading to an exodus of the good-paying, high-quality jobs we desire in our community.
Talent follows compensation, and it is impossible to believe that an Eastern-slope bureaucracy will successfully manage wage structures in Routt County in a way that fosters innovation and quality care.
Finally, Amendment 69 will likely draw as many new residents to Colorado as it will drive out. Unfortunately for the budget, those residents are not likely to contribute to this social program.
Right or wrong, the ColoradoCares Amendment does not have a job requirement to be a participant in the program and so who will pay for the newly insured when the system runs out of funds? There are few options:
• Raise taxes on those residents and businesses remaining in the state
• Cut provider payments to doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc.
• Cut benefits and services to users.
Please read Amendment 69 and give consideration to the impacts of action on this scale. The rise in insurance rates is an issue affecting every American and one we should all work toward solving.
While well-intentioned, perhaps we should explore better alternatives before amending our state constitution.
Ed MacArthur owns Native Excavating in Steamboat Springs.