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DC Unions Bankroll Colorado Campaign Against Health Care Choice

By Linda Gorman

People who need to spend $100,000 to interpret 90 words of a ballot initiative, that the Blue Book interprets for free, shouldn’t have much credibility when it comes to controlling health care costs.

That’s how much the campaign against the health care choice amendment, Amendment 63, spent on fancy campaign consultants. The money came from union headquarters in DC–the National Education Association (NEA), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the AFL-CIO are bankrolling the Colorado campaign against health care choice.

Other donors include self-interested providers, like the Colorado Hospital Association, the Colorado Community Health Network, and the Colorado Medical Society. They like health insurance mandates because mandates will force you spend more on health care and they will get part of your money.

The main part of Amendment 63 is roughly 90 words long. It says that the state cannot limit your right to choose the amount or kind of health insurance that is right for you. It says that you will always be able to buy health care form a willing doctor or hospital. It also says that the State of Colorado may not use your tax dollars to enforce federal laws that go against those rights.

You have all of the rights Amendment 63 would protect now. Amendment 63 makes them constitutional guarantees. If they are in the Colorado Constitution, unions and other special interests will not be able to take them away by cutting backroom deals with legislators.

The Blue Book, the state voter guide, plainly states that Amendment 63 protects people from future attempts to force them to buy health insurance or limit their right to buy legal health care in the marketplace. It also says that the Amendment does not change any existing laws or affect state government revenues or expenditures.

With something so simple, the fancy consultants had to work hard to earn the $100,000 they got paid for dreaming up anti-63 arguments.

Opponents try to argue that unless the State of Colorado has the power to force people to buy expensive health insurance, it will never obtain the magic powers it needs to lower health care costs. It will never be able to “spread the risk.”

The state’s own Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform found that the uninsured shift about $85 of their costs to each person with private insurance. To get rid of that $85, the state will have to collect more than $1,000 in additional taxes from each privately insured person.

Individual mandates shift the risk all right–from people who now pay for roughly half of their own care to taxpayers who then get to pay for all of it.

Opponents argue that mandates are necessary to help people with pre-existing conditions get insurance. But Colorado has been offering subsidized health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions for a decade, and will continue to be able to do so with Amendment 63 in the Colorado Constitution.

Linda Gorman is the Health Care Policy Center Director at the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, Colorado. For more information see Amendment63.org.