Mayling Simpson: A fact check on Amendment 69
October 30, 2016
The Steamboat Pilot editorial of Oct 25 opposes Amendment 69, and I appreciate their willingness to print my fact check of their statements.
The Pilot said that Colorado is too big to take on the whole population with universal health care. Is there an ideal size?
Countries as large as Japan with 129 million people and as small as Slovenia with 2.06 million manage to run their systems. Countries the size of Colorado with successful single-payer, tax-financed systems include Norway, New Zealand and Finland.
The Pilot stated that the time frame (two years) to get ColoradoCare up and running is too short with no explanation why. Colorado Care has determined that two years is sufficient.
The Steamboat Pilot says that ColoradoCare would also administer Medicaid and the Children's Basic Health Plan for Colorado, which would be too much responsibility. Actually these programs and their funding would be integrated into ColoradoCare — one program, less administration, less stigma.
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The Pilot charges that ColoradoCare could entice people to move to Colorado to access state-funded health care. The state of Colorado did not see immigration when Medicaid was expanded. Studies show that people don't move for just health care reasons. They move for jobs, family and lifestyle.
The Pilot thinks some doctors might leave due to uncertainty of reimbursements. ColoradoCare will offer more certainty than the fickle ever-changing reimbursement systems of insurance companies.
The Pilot is concerned about small business carrying a heavy burden of expense. Economic studies of ColoradoCare, including a study of businesses in Routt County, show that most businesses will save, some enormously. The amount of money freed up for spending by local residents will likely result in an economic boom for all businesses.
The Pilot feels it is unfair for taxpayers to pay a 0.9 percent tax for start-up costs for the next two years. If you earn $100,000 in wages, your ColoradoCare tax for the first two years will be $300 annually, not very high. If you are self-employed and earn $100,000, you will pay $900 annually.
The Pilot states that because ColoradoCare is part of the state constitution, if it fails, there is no way to fix it. The Amendment in Section 16 specifically requires the board to shut down ColoradoCare's operations and return unused funds if necessary approvals are not received to make this plan financially viable.
They say that voters might not approve needed tax hikes. A person now making a salary of $100,000 and paying $30,000 for health insurance will be paying $3,300 under ColoradoCare. It will be many years and many tax hikes before ColoradoCare taxes would reach the level that person is paying today.
My guess is that if a tax hike is needed in five or 10 years, the people of Colorado will vote for it. By that time, the idea of going back to private insurance, which will soon be double what it is today, would make ColoradoCare look like a dream.
The Pilot criticizes criteria for the elected board, age 18 and resident of their district. The only requirements for our other state elected officials are age 18 or 25, depending upon the office, and a resident of the district. By elections every four years, board trustees will be held accountable to the demographic districts they represent.
The Pilot worries about the possibility of Colorado having the highest income tax rate in the nation without stating that this new tax saves us $4.5 billion in our current for-profit health insurance premiums. Let's not miss this opportunity to improve health care for all Coloradans.
Vote "yes" for Amendment 69.
Dr. Mayling Simpson