Support Amendment 63


Contrary to the headline in this week’s Intermountain Jewish News, I support Amendment 63.  Here’s the full text of the letter to the editor, which Hillel Goldberg was kind enough to print:


Last week, the Jewish Community Relations Council voted note to take a position on Amendment 63.  While that was the correct decision, as voters, we should strongly support Amendment 63, the Right to Health Care Choice initiative.

Amendment 63 does two things: it keeps the state of Colorado from enforcing any state or federal health insurance mandate, and it ensures that Coloradans will always be able to spend their own money on their own health care, unless they voluntarily enter a program that prevents it.  These are protections of fundamental rights that we have as human beings.

Member organizations indicated that they knew of beneficiaries of their services who might not be able to obtain insurance, or had undergone serious financial hardship from medical expense.  Their conclusion is that the best solution to this problem is Obamacare.

In fact, the law’s benefits will prove illusory.  Both organizations explicitly said that the benefits depend on the mandate.  Implicit is that Obamacare isn’t insurance, it’s a direct transfer of wealth.

We can easily point to those who benefit; it’s much harder to point to those individuals who will bear the cost – young workers and families who are just starting out, but who will be forced to pay for benefits that they will not receive.  It’s a shame they have no advocate on the Council.

Instead of forcing young workers and families to transfer what should be their house, education, or retirement savings to the government, we should make their insurance more affordable by removing unused, expensive mandates that price them out of the market in the first place.

It has been claimed that Obamacare will save $1 trillion.  This double-counts $500 billion taken from Medicare, re-spending it, and classifying it as savings.  It includes 6 years of benefits for 10 years of revenue, and assumes Congress will cease an annual Medicare adjustment – the “doc fix” – that everyone expects will continue unabated.  After 10 years, it will add to our already gargantuan $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities.  No one reading (or writing) this piece truly comprehends that number.  But we’ll have to pay it.

Instead of strengthening our system, the law’s deleterious effects are already being felt.  Insurers are raising rates in anticipation of greater obligations.  Insurers are dropping child-only coverage.  Low-cost insurance policies for college students are endangered.  Employers are shifting costs to those who still have jobs, who will pay with after-tax dollars.  It will likely cost small insurance companies and brokers their businesses.  The IRS has asked to hire 17,000 new employees to enforce the provisions, a deadweight loss of billions to the economy.

While the effects of the current system on those organization’s members are real, by focusing on those needs as an excuse to oppose Amendment 63, the member organizations assume that the only, or even the best, way to address those needs is the current legislation.  Instead, we should encourage innovation and implement incentives for health care consumers to spend their dollars wisely, lowering costs for all.

There is good reason that the JCRC did not take a position.  It generally doesn’t take on these sorts of issues, preferring to conserve its voice for issues of distinctive importance to the Jewish community.  Supporting Obamacare would have placed the JCRC at odds with the 60% of Americans who want the thing repealed outright.  Instead of building bridges, it’s likely to isolate us, dilute our voice, and prevent us from being effective in the future.

Earlier this year, voters in Missouri approved a similar measure by a whopping 71% – 29%.  Voters in Arizona and Oklahome will likely also approve similar measures in a few weeks.  Democrats in 5 other state legislatures have blocked measures from their states’ ballots this fall, but count on them to be re-introduced this coming year.

Coloradans should seize the chance to protect our own health care choices, and continue the efforts to find sensible fixes to our troubled health care system.