A Colorado ballot measure, Amendment 69 or “ColoradoCare”, claims that placing all Coloradans into a government-run, tax-supported health care system will mean increased savings, improved quality, and better coverage.
Are they right? Let’s take a thoughtful look at the facts.
The ColoradoCare Tax Increase
Let’s start with costs. ColoradoCare would levy a new 10% tax on payroll shared by employers and employees.
These new taxes, together with federal funds, state Medicaid funds, and copayments would raise $25 billion for the state’s healthcare costs according to a new report by the nonpartisan Colorado Health Institute (CHI).
Keep in mind that the budget for the entire state government in 2016 is $27 billion.
In effect, ColoradoCare would double the state spending. Higher taxes would mean more costs for Colorado employees and businesses.
But that’s not all. Ultimately the amount raised through higher taxes would not keep up with healthcare costs. CHI projects Colorado healthcare costs to reach in $63.9 billion by 2028. Taxpayer funding would fall short of covering the costs by about $8 billion.
If this happens, then the state would have to raise taxes again, “or it could cut costs by offering fewer health care benefits or by lowering payments to health care providers.”
The ColoradoCare Cuts
Well, so much for better quality and coverage. Coloradans would pay more and/or receive less care. History shows that trying to control costs by lowering payments to providers creates shortages, resulting in fewer doctors and longer waits for patients.
Medicaid patients, for example, are having an increasingly hard time finding providers because reimbursement is low and many doctors will not take on new Medicaid patients. Although Medicare reimbursement is better than Medicaid, the proportion of doctors unwilling to take new Medicare patients is higher than of doctors unwilling to take new patients with private insurance.
Veterans hospitals are little better; some patients are literally dying while waiting for an appointment.
Patients would wait to get the procedures they need as they do in countries with socialized medicine. The median wait time for a hip replacement is nearly five months in Canada and three months in England. Waiting for a hip replacement hurts. Waiting for bypass surgery could be deadly.
These facts raise the question: if a patient is “covered” by a government program like ColoradoCare, but can’t find a doctor, what use is the coverage?
The ColoradoCare Alternative
Advocates for socialized medicine are making promises they can’t keep. It’s economics 101. When demand exceeds supply, costs go up. If costs are capped by government regulation, shortages ensue. Wishful thinking won’t make it otherwise.
The idea of Amendment 69 sounds wonderful, but it will actually deliver the opposite – higher taxes, poorer quality healthcare, and less medical care coverage.
A better approach to health care would remove barriers to better care. It would put patients and doctors in charge. Yes, this means less government intervention. To insist the government has to run health care is to cut off the spirt of resourceful, independent Coloradans.
What are your thoughts? Can we provide better access to better care while making it more affordable? Of course we can. Check out a few ideas about healthcare reform that works.
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