By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Opponents of a ballot initiative that would exempt Colorado from major portions of federal health care reform shared several stories yesterday of Coloradans who say the initiative would “limit Colorado’s ability to determine its own future on reforming health care.”
Colorado Deserves Better, the campaign opposing Amendment 63, released the five stories yesterday, including narratives from patients and industry insiders.
The campaign is opposing the initiative by Jon Caldara, president of the Golden-based libertarian Independence Institute. The ballot question asks Colorado voters to exempt the state from health reform that would require businesses and individuals to carry health insurance or pay a penalty.
One story highlights the struggle of the Wilkes family, an Englewood family whose son, Thomas Wilkes, was born in 2003 with hemophilia. President Obama had highlighted the family during his push for health reform as being an example of why health reform is necessary to address issues with lifetime benefit limits.
The Wilkes’ health care plan came with a lifetime cap of $6 million. With Thomas requiring more treatments, it is likely that they will exceed $6 million in costs.
The family believes Amendment 63 will reverse the affects of health reform that prohibits insurance companies from imposing lifetime benefit limits, and lock Thomas into the “high-cost health insurance that is crippling their family.”
“Amendment 63 has nothing to do with good health care,” said Nathan Wilkes, Thomas’ father. “It just locks us into the same ridiculous financing model that resulted in today’s high premiums and poor coverage. If Amendment 63 passes, we wouldn’t be able to afford the higher premiums. Even worse, the state would have little room to make the improvements we actually need.”
Proponents argue that Coloradans should have a choice when it comes to health reform. They say their initiative would only “prohibit the state from forcing you to buy a politician-approved health plan and protect your right to pay for medical care with your own money, rather than depending on a legal health plan.”
But Dr. Brent Keeler, president-elect of the Colorado Medical Society, said in a statement yesterday that Amendment 63 might “interfere with the state’s ability to regulate the practice of medicine.”
“I am an OB/GYN, and I practice in Aurora. I see patients from all different socio-economic levels — one patient drives a Mercedes, another takes the bus,” said Keeler. “I have people in my practice for whom we are going to have to work out a payment plan. Amendment 63 injects complications into any financial arrangement I might make with a patient and would hurt my patients’ ability to afford health care.”