6 April 2016: Get informed about health-care ballot issues

With the news the county might be asking Clear Creek voters for permission to create a health service district financed in large part by property and sales taxes, it is now doubly important for us to become educated about health care ballot initiatives coming this November.

Amendment 69, also known as ColoradoCareYes, that would establish a universal health care system in Colorado is already on the ballot. My fervent hope is that the discussion we’ll be having about the proposals will not mirror the hyperbolic debate that occurred over the Affordable Care Act. That’s my hope, but as one who assiduously avoids living in a world of delusion, I know better. The usual suspects will be out in full force armed with baseless and over-the-top claims about them. Count on it.

Concurrently though, my belief is that an educated citizenry makes informed choices. And the best defense against falling prey to hyper emotive claims is to steel one’s self with facts, much as one does to prevent one’s self from coming down with a cold.

One’s health and, therefore, one’s health care practices ought to be among his/her top concerns. So, how one accesses health care treatment is critical for him or herself and their families.

Be prepared to hear trigger words and loaded language such as “socialized medicine” and “government-run health care system” between now and November. Neither has any basis in fact when it comes to what is being proposed, but they’ve become weapons in uninformed and biased individuals’ arsenals.

Because of requirements enshrined in the so-called TABOR Amendment authored by convicted felon Douglas Bruce, all tax-related ballot initiatives must begin with the amount taxes would be raised. Hence, the ballot for Amendment 69 begins with “SHALL STATE TAXES BE INCREASED $25 BILLION ANNUALLY IN THE FIRST FULL FISCAL YEAR, AND BY SUCH AMOUNTS THAT ARE RAISED THEREAFTER, BY AN AMENDMENT TO THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION ESTABLISHING A HEALTH CARE PAYMENT SYSTEM TO FUND HEALTH CARE FOR ALL INDIVIDUALS WHOSE PRIMARY RESIDENCE IS IN COLORADO…”

Essentially, in Amendment 69 Colorado voters will be asked to create a cooperative that is independent of the state. The oversight of the co-op would be by an elected board, which in turn would hire executives to run it. It would be funded by a tax on incomes up to 10 percent, primarily split between a worker—3.3 percent of his/her wage—and his/her employer who would pay the remaining 6.7 percent. Detractors go right to that, but educated citizens know that taxpayers will SAVE between four and five billion dollars annually due to their private insurance premiums going the way of the dodo bird.

Of course, there are other considerations such as being self-employed and income from investments as well as for seniors on Medicare and receiving Social Security. Those are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. And they can be, if one takes time to do his or her homework.

The need for a health clinic for Clear Creek citizens is dire and pressing. It is outrageous we don’t have a doctor in the house. And if we leave it to so-called free market, it’s likely we never will.

That gets to a fundamental issue about how we have delivered health care in America since the 1940s when the first health insurance companies took root: for profit rather than for health. The for-profit forces exploded with the rise of HMOs during Richard Nixon’s administration. It’s a long, winding path, but Clear Creek residents being deprived of their human right is the result of the for-profit health providers’ domination.

Begin getting more informed by attending the community event sponsored by the Clear Creek Democrats on Thursday, April 7th, at the United Center in Idaho Springs. TR Reid will present his documentary “Sick Around the World,” which looks at health care systems in countries across the globe. Reid will field questions and lead a discussion about the potentials for the United States.

Clear Creek voters have work to do to get educated about both Amendment 69 as well as the potential county initiative. The great part is that it’s not too early, but if you wait and put off doing your homework, just as it is for your kiddos, you won’t be able to make a good call.

Doors open at 6:30 and the presentation begins at 7:00. See you there.

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