Eye on the Legislature

August 15, 2016
The content of the August 8th edition is significant to warrant a second run. Please read carefully.
The controlling provisions of Amendment 69 are the following which will be the opening paragraphs from now on until election day in 2016 so that readers may stay diligent when reading the many and varied ramifications. Remember, the proposed amendment to the Constitution of Colorado is twelve (12) pages long even when printed out in a small font type: 

  • All Coloradans will lose their current benefit plan to be replaced by benefits yet to be determined, to be serviced by an entity yet to be identified, to include providers yet to be named.
  •  Readers are cautioned that anything you read or hear about Amendment 69 means ColoradoCare is across the board totally exempt from the Taxpayers Bill of Rights. There will be no restriction on the tax (premiums) the governing board can impose on you the citizens of Colorado. (Section 10. Exemption. ColoradoCare and this article are exempt from Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution. [Article X is the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (aka TABOR)].
  • Further caution - Section 3. There is hereby established a political subdivision of the state called ColoradoCare. ColoradoCare is not an agency of the state and is not subject to administrative direction or control by any state executive, department, commission, board, bureau or agency.  

   Because the ramifications are so many and broad, NoOn69 is providing analysis of each which will be provided to readers of this column as they become available.
ColoradoCare will be required to build a new infrastructure for implementing statewide elections. This will not come without significant cost to all Coloradans.
Amendment 69 establishes ColoradoCare as a political subdivision of the state and directs that “members” of ColoradoCare elect the Board of Trustees and vote on future tax increases. The definition of a “member” of ColoradoCare is not consistent with the definition of an eligible voter in the State of Colorado. As such, ColoradoCare will have to maintain a separate database of voters and be responsible for implementing a separate elections process.
In a rare departure from standard policy to not heavily engage in state initiatives, the Washington, D.C.-based Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers (CIAB), a national association representing the largest commercial insurance firms in the country, has taken a strong position on Amendment 69. (The statement referred to herein was the opinion of CIAB president Ken A. Crerar). Crerar stated in a recent release, “ . . .we've never before seen the calibrated assault that Colorado's Amendment 69 wages on the benefits – and indirectly, the property and casualty – market.” Here are the significant points that the Crerar emphasized in his statement:

  • This ballot initiative, also known as “ColoradoCare,” would create a single-payer health system in the state, and may dissolve the state's market for employer-provided benefits.
  • The proposal would initially cost the state $25 billion, doubling the state budget and catapulting Colorado to the highest taxed state in the nation.
  • There is no clarity on the coverage options the entity would offer current recipients of employer plans.
  • Every Coloradan receiving employer coverage would lose their existing plan and their abilities to review benefit plan changes or override the probable tax increase to continue funding the regime.
  • It would make Coloradans guinea pigs to the decisions of a wildly powerful 21-person board that would dictate everything from benefit packages to provider networks and prescription plans.
  • It 's a nearly all-out assault on individual freedom when it comes to personal health decisions.
  • The amendment includes language that would also rid the market of workers' compensation insurance.
  • If passed, ColoradoCare would also encompass the workers' compensation marketplace – eviscerating the private industry.
  • The workplace is a lot different today than it was more than 100 years ago when Workers' Compensation was developed.
  • The safety policies and procedures that are put in place by companies across Colorado to mitigate risk, avoid accidents and benefit consumers would all be jeopardized by Amendment 69.
  • All Colorado residents would be subject to the single-payment system irrespective of the location of corporate headquarters.
  • Its passage would have a detrimental effect on the risk mitigation strengths that the Workers' Compensation market brings customers.
  • Amendment 69 levies a massive tax increase on Coloradans and creates a dangerous institution putting health decisions in the hands of a powerful few.
  • Many property and casualty firms also have a benefits component, which will be affected. Wiping out the competitive market for insurance plans also eliminates the incentives that employers have to keep costs down.
  • Wellness programs which have gained popularity since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) would go by the wayside.
  • Safety policies and procedures implemented by companies across the state designed to avoid accidents and keep their insurance claims low would be jeopardized.
  • One of the greatest strengths of the insurance market is the inherent risk mitigation strategies that come along with premium controls. Those benefit consumers and Amendment 69 puts them in danger.

   Crerar closed his statement with the admonition that ColoradoCare is not just a Colorado problem, that the CIAB has fought attacks on employer benefits for years, and passage of ColoradoCare would be devastating for Colorado health plans.

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.