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The Dilemma: To save small businesses or to approve universal health services

The Dilemma: To save small businesses or to approve universal health services

The Dilemma: To save small businesses or to approve universal health services
October 13
15:02 2016

DEBATE OVER AMMENDMENT 69

Newsroom/El Comercio de Colorado

This coming November 8th, voters will have the discretion to approve or reject Amendment 69, which proposes the creation of a new health system in Colorado. Those who support the amendment, and those who oppose it, believe the decision is very important, but they differ on the reasons. Irene Aguilar, doctor and member of the State Senate, believes that approving the amendment “will guarantee medical attention for all Colorado residents.” Meanwhile, oncologist Miguel Parra indicates that, if approved, the amendment will have a devastating effect on the health of small businesses.

The proposal

Senator Aguilar seeks the creation of a universal health system in Colorado.
Every person who lives in Colorado would be a beneficiary and eligible to receive services.” Under this universal system, that would be called ColoradoCare, patients would receive some services for free. These are the same essential services included under Obamacare. Meanwhile, other medical services would require for the patient to pay a small amount, or copay, previously determined.

“No one has to buy insurance anymore. Colorado Care would get rid of the deductible and co-insurance. The people who need to get medical care could afford to get medical care.”, said the senator. Aguilar has been fighting for this reform ever since she started working in the State Senate in 2010. “When I was a primary care physician at Denver Health Medical Center, I had a close look at what happens when treatable conditions go ignored because patients have no health coverage. I met a young woman with diabetes who developed kidney disease and died.”

It is a tax

The ColoradoCare System would be financed with a new tax on all kinds of income that Colorado residents might have. There will be a tax on wages, interest income and dividends, capital gains, business income, pensions and social security benefits, and real estate income. “Everyone will have to pay this tax to sustain the system, even if they never use the services,” explained Dr. Parra.

According to the plan outlined in the Amendment 69, every company in the State will be forced to pay a tax of 10% on their payroll. Workers will cover 3.3 per cent of that amount, through withholdings, and the company will cover the other 6.7 per cent. Self-employed individuals will have to pay the full 10 per cent over their income. The same rate of 10 per cent will apply to all types of income.

The impact

Aguilar believes that companies who currently pay health insurance for their employees will incur in savings if this new tax is approved. “For example, most construction companies have health insurance. In average, they spend 13 per cent to provide health insurance and the medical portion of Worksman Comp for their employees. With ColoradoCare, it becomes 6.67 per cent. For a company which already provides health insurance, it will be half the cost. For most employers, 6.67 per cent is less than what they are spending now to provide lesser benefits to their workers, she said.

The promoter of this initiative acknowledged that small businesses who are not currently offering health insurance will be affected by the new tax. “If the company does not provide insurance, at least, one percent of the payroll usually goes to the medical portion of the Worksman Comp. ColoradoCare would only be adding a 5.4 per cent”, said Aguilar. Dr. Parra, on the other hand, is concerned about this new cost for small businesses. “Many small and medium-size businesses will have to cease operations. Many sectors operate on a profit margin of 4%. This amendment will bring unemployment,” he stated.

A socialistic approach

Parra believes that this amendment is trying to apply a “socialistic model” to handle health care in Colorado. “With amendment 69, a new independent public entity would be created which would administer about 38 thousand million dollars. That amount is larger than the State’s budget, which is 25 thousand million dollars; and also higher than the revenues of McDonalds and Nike,” he said. He also added, “the decisions will be in the hands of two dozen people, who will not be accountable to anyone. They will be elected, but they can’t be revoked, recalled or impeached.”

The Board of Directors of ColoradoCare would have the ability to increase the percentage of tax to be collected, as needed. This entity would be exempt from the TABOR regulations. Also, ColoradoCare has the authority to regulate the prices providers charge for their services. “Decisions made by this ‘almighty’ board will discourage health provider companies and professionals. Many will flee Colorado,” said Dr. Parra.

A long road ahead

Dr. Aguilar believes that “ColoradoCare board of trustees would be accountable to the public. Everything will be public and available to the public.” However, Aguilar is not getting ahead of the events. If Amendment 69 gets approved, it would only be enacted if the Federal Government approves it. The Federal Government would then transfer the portion of money it provides for Obamacare, Medicaid and the Child Health Plan. “Without that authorization and the money, ColoradoCare can’t operate, says the amendment,” concluded Aguilar.


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