Gary DeKoter: Amendment is risk we shouldn’t take
I am writing to explain why I am opposed to the ColoradoCare constitutional amendment:
The interim board will be appointed by a political process. The appointees have no requirement of expertise in the health care field. They are required to be in favor of this proposal.
The elected board of trustees will also have no required qualifications but the selection rules will be set by the interim board, again a political process.
The tax rates set in the amendment are only estimates. The board will have the power to annually set new rates that must be approved by a majority of those voting that have this coverage. The initial rates and any increases will affect who remains a resident of this state and who becomes one in the future.
The amendment states that policies and procedures will be established to pay benefits for health care services rendered to a beneficiary who is temporarily living or traveling in another state. No obligation exists for ColoradoCare to negotiate with any out-of-state provider. Providers in other states have no obligation to accept the ColoradoCare reimbursement rates. Nothing is mentioned about coverage during foreign travel.
We will be giving this new board the power to set all reimbursement rates for medical providers, drugs and other medical services in our state. They will also determine what drugs and medical procedures are covered in any way. Drugs you now take may not be covered and procedures you need in the future may not be approved.
We were promised with the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) that people could keep their doctors and insurance coverage. It was going to save each family thousands of dollars. Those covered by it have had massive premium and deductible increases and have had restrictions on where they can receive services.
The amendment also prohibits doctors from receiving any copayment or other cost-sharing amount without the approval of the board (section 6, (d) (5)).
Having coverage is not the same as having health care. We are now promised that ColoradoCare will result in massive cost savings just like ObamaCare. This board will have an incentive to set reimbursement rates low to achieve the promised cost savings. Today, many doctors will not accept new (or any) Medicare or Medicaid patients. If you are over 65 and have needed treatment by a specialist in Denver, you may have experienced this. That is the result of setting rates lower than what is considered acceptable.
We have excellent health care in Steamboat and Colorado today. With no ability to charge anything other than what this board has mandated, we may find that when we call our doctor the message may be, “this number is no longer in service.” Nothing in this amendment requires our doctors to remain in Colorado.
I think this amendment is a risk the people in this state should not take.
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Thursday, Feb. 25