Editorial: ColoradoCare represents too big a gamble for state

We’ve watched with interest the debate over Amendment 69, which will appear on the statewide ballot this November. The proposed constitutional amendment would create ColoradoCare, a single-payer health-care system that would cover 83 percent of Coloradans, with the balance receiving health-care benefits from Medicare and other systems.

On the one hand, ColoradoCare would achieve the goal of “health care for everyone.” It would ease the burden of endless lists of payers, insurance plans, copays, etc. Much of the private-sector health-care bureaucracy would be eliminated.

It all sounds very good — until you read the details, or the lack thereof.

ColoradoCare would be funded by a 3.33 percent payroll tax to be paid by all employees, taking the state’s income-tax rate from 4.63 percent to 7.96 percent, among the highest in the nation. Employers would pay 6.67 percent — getting the total payroll tax to 10 percent — to help fund ColoradoCare, on top of the taxes they’re already paying. Sole proprietors would have to pay the full 10 percent ColoradoCare tax.

That’s just for starters. ColoradoCare would provide insurance coverage for residents temporarily out of state, but it’s unclear how those out-of-state providers would be reimbursed. Thousands of insurance-industry professionals would be tossed out of work. Small businesses and sole proprietorships would be endangered. Hospitals and other health-care providers would face uncertainty over reimbursement levels, with many of them fearing that ColoradoCare could push them out of business, too.

The most staggering number to consider? ColoradoCare would double the size of state government, costing $25 billion initially. (The state budget is about $27 billion currently.)

ColoradoCare would be governed by an interim board of 15 individuals to be appointed by the governor and legislators. A permanent board of 21 trustees then would be elected from seven districts throughout the state and would administer a budget that would reach $25 billion in Year One alone. (That’s larger than many U.S. corporations, and larger than more than half the states.)

As for the private-sector health-care and insurance bureaucracy that would be eliminated, is it really the right call to replace it with a governmental bureaucracy with little accountability?

Many other arguments could be made against this proposal, leaving one thing abundantly clear: ColoradoCare represents a $25 billion gamble. It’s too risky for Colorado.

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