Patient Choum Sengdara receives a flu vaccination from a doctor at the Wardenburg Health Center on the CU Boulder campus in January 2013. (Gary Sheer/CU Independent File)

Ballot Cheat Sheet: Amendment 69 and Proposition 106, health care issues

While the presidential election this November is at the forefront of media attention, the ballot includes a host of issues on which students will vote. Below is a summary of two measures on the ballot pertaining to health care: Amendment 69 and Proposition 106.

One of the most controversial amendments on the ballot is Amendment 69, which would implementing ColoradoCare, a universal government-run health care plan for all Colorado residents.

The plan would not prevent Coloradans from purchasing private (non-government) insurance, and those who are the beneficiaries of Medicaid and Tricare would still receive coverage through the federal government. ColoradoCare aims to provide comprehensive health services such as emergency care, mental health services, prescription drugs and pediatric care.

The plan would be funded through a payroll tax increase of 10 percent, with employers contributing two-thirds and employees contributing one-third. Non-payroll incomes, including self-employment and business proprietors’ income, would also be taxed 10 percent.

Arguments in favor of the proposition claim that the amendment creates a more affordable payment system in which costs can be regulated through the creation of a centralized system. Additionally, it could provide more transparency, as members of the cooperative would be elected to serve the needs of the public rather than accommodating to the interests of private corporations.

Opposition arguments point to the increase in taxes for both employers and employees, which may negatively impact the state economy and eliminate jobs. Another concern is that Coloradans might never receive ColoradoCare if the federal government doesn’t approve it, or if Colorado can’t raise enough money in taxes. The proposition does not detail how certain measures will be implemented.

Moreover, the system may strain health care providers, who may have an incentive to leave the state due to uncertainties in Colorado’s health care market. Most abortions would also not be funded under ColoradoCare. The Denver Post argues that Amendment 69 would attract out-of-state patients who are the most expensive to cover and least able to pay.

In sum: A “yes” vote supports the establishment of ColoradoCare, while a “no” vote leaves the system unchanged.

Another hot-button ballot item is Proposition 106, which concerns making assisted death legal for terminally ill patients. Assisted death is currently a felony in Colorado and only legal in five states: California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Under the proposition, eligible patients would be able to receive aid-in-dying drugs after written and oral requests. The proposition would also criminalize compelling a terminally ill patient to request the medication.

Those in favor of the proposition argue that the amendment would expand the options available to patients in the last stage of their life, granting mentally competent individuals the choice of if and how to end their life.

The proposition also promotes public safety by creating criminal penalties and ensuring that there are multiple witnesses to medication requests. This access to aid-in-dying drugs may provide comfort and a sense of autonomy to terminally ill patients.

Arguments against Proposition 106 say that it promotes the message that some lives are not worth living, and that the availability of aid-in-dying options may lead patients to make drastic choices more often than they would have without them. Other concerns include a possible compromise in medical ethics or fraud, as family members who would inherit valuables from a patient could subject the individual to coercion.

A “yes” on Proposition 106 supports legalizing assisted death while a “no” maintains the current legal status.

Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Heidi Harris at heidi.harris@colorado.edu.

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The CU Independent, or CUI for short, is the student news outlet for the University of Colorado at Boulder. We cover news, sports, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment and more. Our mission is to provide news and commentary that's for students and by students — about the things we care about.

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