Health-care choice proposal OK’d for November ballot

/ Colorado News Agency
Aug 27th, 2010

IMG_9800Choosing a health care provider should be a right guaranteed to all Coloradans says a citizen’s initiative approved for the statewide ballot Thursday—but a Colorado lawmaker contends there’s potential loopholes that may limit choice should the amendment pass.

On Thursday the Colorado secretary of state certified the initiative dubbed “The Right to Health Care Choice,” which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 63 in this November’s election. In July, 135,000 voters’ signatures were turned in to the Secretary of State’s Office, just under double the required number of signatures. The citizens ballot initiative is intended to counter sweeping health-care legislation passed by ruling congressional Democrats and championed by the Obama administration requiring most Americans to buy health insurance.

The Chairman of the Health Care Choice for Colorado Issue Committee, Jon Caldara of the Golden-based Independence Institute, said that if approved by voters, Amendment 63 would prohibit the state of Colorado from forcing its citizens to purchase a public or private health insurance product, either on its own, or on behalf of the federal government. The amendment would also constitutionally protect the right of Coloradans to pay out-of-pocket for health care services and products.

Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and sits on the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said she believes the initiative will resonate with voters in its intent to secure choice in health care, but she sees some potential problems with the language of the amendment.

“I’m not a fan of the individual mandate – and never was in either a state or federal plan,” said Carroll.  “However, I don’t think (Amendment 63 is) very well written. The problem is in the ambiguity of who this applies to and who it doesn’t.”

Carroll said the amendment appears to be selective regarding the right to choose health care.

“If you believe it’s a right, then why should 90 percent of the people who are employed in this state be denied that right if they get hurt on the job?” Carroll said, pointing to limitations on choosing doctors under the state’s insurance system for injured workers.

Carroll said she is also concerned that the initiative calls  into question existing statute allowing insurance carriers and health maintenance organizations to limit payments exclusively to preferred providers or network providers.  Carroll is not so sure that outlawing PPO’s and HMO’s was the intention of the drafters of the amendment.

“I know this trying to take aim at the federal health care bill, and we want to have a system where people have a very wide-open choice of providers– but PPO’s and HMO’s are an invention of the insurance industry, right now, limiting choice,”  said Carroll.

Reached for comment, Caldara said that choice in health care is the essence of the initiative and that he doesn’t foresee any limits on choice.  The language in the amendment, he says, acknowledges existing statutes regarding employment law. Participation in HMO’s and PPO’s, said Caldara, are a choice that consumers make, negating any notion that they will be outlawed.

“The idea that this somehow is going to limit choice is laughable.  It only protects and expands choice in Colorado,” said Caldara.  “To try and bring in some oddities about employment law and HMO’s is a stretch. I think it would be great to have more choices in Workman’s Compensation. Hopefully, in the long run, this initiative will help to expand choice for those folks as well.”

(The Colorado News Agency is a nonpartisan, nonprofit project in public-interest journalism affiliated with the Independence Institute.)

1 Response for “Health-care choice proposal OK’d for November ballot”

  1. Anita Sherman says:

    Amendment 63 the Health Care TABOR Amendment. Amendment 63 – as marketed by reactionaries from the Jon Caldara camp at the Independence Institute is misleading; asserting that they are promoting choice for Colorado’s concerned citizens. Let’s really look at what Amendment 63 will do in light of the federal mandates within the parameters of federal health care reforms.

    The US adopted an insurance based system – federally – in 1973, ratcheting the controls of the insurance industry to write, regulate, and request federal funding to support their industry. As such, a private system of health care management organizations with PPO with insurance products were created. The feds would pay a share to the insurance industry, employers would pay additional funds to the insurance industry, and the taxpayer would pay a share to the insurance industry. That’s a lot of shares – to the tune of 17% GDP – that kept a lot of shareholders and insurance executives happy for decades.

    HCR is transitioning the nation from an insurance industry controlled system to a care based system with options that will range from private insurance to State and federal care based options. Reforms are creating a variety of choices for citizens to choose based on whatever financial situation fits within their budget.

    Amendment 63 convolutes the intentions of HCR. HCR is effectively rolling back insurance industry controls to federal tax dollars – incrementally – and returns those funds to the State through the Department of Health and Human Services. The Act – as written – is essentially State’s rights’ legislation. Each State has opportunity to secure programs for health care, such as Medicare/Medicaid/Chip programs, and create new ones as more federal funding becomes available in this transition. By the time the federal mandate for “insurance coverage” takes affect in 2014, the majority of State’s – smart ones – will have programs in place that will negate the affects of any mandate. A Federal mandate becomes moot, if a State has programs available for all citizens to access care and/or coverage. Colorado is effectively working toward that goal with qualifying programs for those who are without insurance or care based opportunities. This could mean a variety of options, such as stand alone private insurance coverage, and public options within an insurance pool, and/or State care single-payer programs. That’s a lot of choices. If Amendment 63 passes, Colorado will essentially opt itself out of opportunities to move from an insurance based system, and reduce our choices to insurance coverage only options. In essence, Amendment 63 protects the insurance industry’s stronghold at the State level, keeping choices within the industry, instead of creating care based opportunities.

    Amendment 63 – and it’s proponents can be thanked for TABOR, and we all know what that’s done for Colorado taxpayers and our budget. Add Amendment 60, Amendment 61, and Amendment 101 to the ballot, and it’s clear what proponents are trying to do to our State. It’s a disastrous proposal created by a tunnel-visioned group of reactionaries with Jon Caldara waving his “I hate taxes” pom- poms, and rallying around anything Anti-Obama. There’s nothing informational about the Independence Institute’s take on HCR – just a group of pedigreed progenies proned to tantrums; claiming they represent taxpayers rights. Save it! For those of us who understand our taxes pay for services, infrastructure, sanitation, education opportunities, and care when we’re sick, we’re more inclined to watchdog accountability – not throw the baby out with the bath water. Amendment 63 – another reactionary TABOR style proposal. VOTE NO on Amendment 63.

Leave a Reply

Log in / Advanced NewsPaper by Gabfire Themes