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Amendment 63 Protects Right to Spend Own Money on Medical Care

By Linda Gorman, PhD

Passing Amendment 63 in November would ensure that you will have the right to use your own money to pay for the medical care that you think you need.

If you live in Colorado you need this protection, and you need it now.

Colorado’s health agencies plan to control your health care even if you have private insurance. They are staffed with people who think that it is their right to control the amount of money you should be allowed to spend on health care. They also believe that they should have the right to determine the treatments that you should be allowed to get.

H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) has finally given them the power to make their dreams a reality. It puts government in control of the medical care that private insurers may offer, lets government track all medical care encounters, and will let the state determine the value of different kinds of medical care.

The Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) is just one of the “public-private” entities within the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing that wants to tell you what to do. It is cooperating with a number of private foundations, and private businesses, to put limits on your medical care expenditures.

In reports to the private foundations that help support it, CIVHC says that it hopes that the experiments it runs on people in Medicaid, a group forced to accept whatever health care state agencies decide to deliver, “can later be replicated for private payer populations.”

An April 2010 email update from the State Quality Improvement Institute discusses CIVHC’s current project to measure the cost savings from using more palliative care in Medicaid. The email brags that the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and CIVHC “are teaming up with the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Kaiser-Permanente Colorado, the National Palliative Care Research Center, and the Center to Advance Palliative Care to conduct a study in Colorado measuring the cost savings of palliative care services for the state Medicaid program.”

People in Medicaid can already get palliative care if they wish. So can everyone else.

In certain health policy circles “palliative care” is code for withholding medical treatment that health care bureaucrats deem “too expensive” for ordinary people. Government agencies trying to lower their health care expenditures love palliative care. They feel that too few people in their programs choose it.

Why pay for medical treatment, they reason, when such treatments have only a moderate chance of success and when it is much less expensive to provide people with all the drugs they need for comfort care?

This attitude permeates government controlled health care systems. It is one reason why European countries with government run systems have much higher cancer mortality rates than the US. It is a lot less expensive to give someone pain killing drugs than a course of radiation or chemotherapy.

Passing Amendment 63 would send a message to elected officials. It would tell them that it is wrong for government to cooperate with private entities to limit an individual’s right to use his own money to pay for the medical care that he needs. It would also amend the Colorado Constitution to preserve the right to spend your own money to buy the medical care that may save your live or the lives of those you love.

Linda Gorman is Director of the Health Care Policy Center at the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado.