Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, right, discusses Amendment 69, a state health care system initiative, with Carol Salter, a physician integration director for Banner Health, Northern Colorado, during a luncheon Monday at the Loveland Chamber of Commerce. (Jenny Sparks / Loveland Reporter-Herald)
TREASURER RAILS AGAINST AMENDMENT 69 HEALTH CARE ISSUE: AMENDMENT 69 WOULD BE A ‘TIME BOMB,’ STAPLETON SAYS
BY: JEFF STAHLA
Colorado would face a diminished economic future if voters choose to approve Amendment 69 in November, the state’s treasurer told community and health care leaders Monday in Loveland.
State Treasurer Walker Stapleton told attendees of an event at the Loveland Chamber of Commerce that Amendment 69, which would create a single-payer health insurance program in the state, has unlimited costs and too many unintended consequences.
“I think it will have a disastrous impact almost immediately on Colorado,” he said.
Stapleton, a Republican, is a co-chairman of the advocacy group Coloradans for Coloradans, which is seeking to defeat the measure at the polls. The other co-chairman is former Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat.
Advocates for the amendment, ColoradoCare, are proposing an overhaul of the state health system to provide 100 percent coverage. Funding would be through payroll taxes on employers and some types of employees, and advocates say that because health insurance premiums will no longer be required from individuals, it will save the state money in the long run. They point to countries such as Canada and Germany as examples of success with a single-payer system.
Stapleton said such comparisons are not valid, however, because they are comparing a country with a state. For physicians in Colorado, reduced payments or increased bureaucracy could prompt them to move to another state, which is an option not available at the country level.
Thompson School District Superintendent Stan Scheer noted the amendment, if passed, could have unintended consequences in the state, as well. If the state started to offer a single-payer health care program to all residents, it could attract new residents who have higher-level health-care needs or lower levels of income, both of which could strain school district and state budgets.
“If you thought legalized marijuana brought people to Colorado, wait until you see free health care,” he said.
Stapleton called his outreach efforts on Monday part of a “grass-tops” campaign to reach out to community and business leaders. Last week, he campaigned across the Western Slope and the Interstate 70 corridor. He told attendees Monday that greater fundraising and outreach will be needed to reach millennials, who have shown via polls to support the amendment more than other demographics. He acknowledged that there’s not too many voters under 35 years old at the service club and chambers of commerce meetings he attends.
He said the uncertainty about Amendment 69 and other constitutional changes proposed on the ballot has affected Colorado’s bond rating — when it should be AAA, it’s only AA because of the ease with which major fiscal policy can be written into the state’s governing document.
“Amendment 69 is an economic time bomb,” he said.
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