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Suspend Amendment 69 Campaign

September 12, 2016
Scott McGraw
CCIG’s Scott McGraw

We’ve all seen the headlines: the Affordable Care Act is faltering. Insurers are exiting its online markets, double-digit premiums are on the way and enrollment levels are far short of advocates’ hopes.

In short, the most sweeping effort at reforming health care in America is in trouble. A push for universal care in Colorado, Amendment 69, seems certain to meet the same fate.

Also known as ColoradoCare, there’s a lot about the amendment that has given many in the state pause, starting with the fact it would represent a dramatic expansion of our state government.

In fact, Coloradans on both sides of the political spectrum have come out against Amendment 69. Among their concerns: the amendment would mean a massive new tax burden on small businesses.

The proposal would create a state-operated single-payer health system that would cost taxpayers $25 billion.

In addition to a 6.67 percent tax on employer payrolls, a 10 percent tax would be assessed on all income from “pass-through entities.” This applies to sole proprietors, partnerships, S corporations, and income from farms and rental property.

Related: ColoradoCare Would Results in Billions in Deficits

According to the No on 69 campaign, anyone receiving income on a Schedule K-1, rental income, or income from a farm will have to pay the full 10 percent on all their business profits, whether or not those profits are ever withdrawn from the business and realized to the individual.

That is simply unfair. More worrisome, it would seem to provide ample incentive for companies to discard plans to move here.

It’s also troubling that the amendment would give ColoradoCare control over medical decisions in workers’ compensation cases, while leaving private carriers with the job of paying for something over which they have no say.

The nonpartisan Colorado Health Institute has questioned the financial viability of Amendment 69. According to its analysis, ColoradoCare would quickly see deficits in the billions of dollars unless benefits were cut, taxes raised and doctors were paid less.

The opposition to Amendment 69 is not another example of conservatives fighting progressives. Indeed, some of the most liberal voices in Colorado have come out against it.

“There are real policy problems with Amendment 69 that its supporters did not anticipate,” ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Ian Silverii said in late August. “When … one of the state’s leading health care research organizations tells us this is a plan that doesn’t work fiscally, we have to take that seriously.”

With so much about the proposal in doubt, its supporters would do best to suspend their campaign and return to the drawing board. With costs spiraling, we need health reform. Next time, however, they might have better luck by inviting all sides to the table.

Scott McGraw is CCIG Vice President of Employee Benefits.

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