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Amendment gives Colo. chance to vote on national health care reform

4:59 AM, Jul 31, 2010   |    comments
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To qualify for the November ballot, 76,047 of those signatures need to be matched with registered Colorado voters.

The amendment would prevent Coloradans from being required to buy health insurance and to continue to allow medical personnel to take payments in cash for services.

"We want Colorado to be a sanctuary state for quality health care," Jon Caldara, the initiative's chief proponent, said. "This is not just to address the mandate in Obama-care, this is to make sure Colorado never becomes like Massachusetts where government puts a gun to your head and says you will buy a private product whether you want it or not."

Dozens of states have initiated either legislative measures or ballot measures addressing the health care reform passed earlier this year by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. Supporters of the measure say Caldara is missing the true impact of the new law.

"It's hard to imagine that there are too many Colorado seniors who don't want the Medicare donut hole closed, parents who don't want their children to have coverage as young adults, patients with pre-existing conditions who don't want to finally get insurance or families and small business owners who aren't interested in actually being able to afford coverage," Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado), who was a leading advocate of the plan in the House of Representatives, said. "But if there are, it's certainly his right to try and find them."

Caldara says he has spent the last few months gathering the signatures for personal, not political reasons.

"I have a 6-year-old son who suffers with Down Syndrome," he said. "He's endured nine surgeries in his short six years. This is to save his life. This is not for show. I want quality health care here in Colorado and I want to make sure we don't slowly gravitate toward a Canada-type system of rationing and government decisions over health care. This protects Colorado."

The director of the state's largest advocacy group disagrees.

"We respect the election process that is taking place, but we would remind voters of the benefits of the health care law," Morie Smile, the state director of AARP Colorado, said. "[That includes] closure of the Medicare Part D donut hole, no more discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and added no or low cost preventive care."

A non-partisan coalition of physicians, hospitals, consumer advocates, religious organizations, and others spoke out in response to the submission on Friday.

Edie Sonn, of the Colorado Medical Society, an organization representing Colorado physicians, released the following statement:

"In this economy, higher heath care prices mean trouble for Colorado. Caldara's amendment does exactly that: cost us money. With your support, we can defeat this ballot initiative and keep health care safe, available, and affordable."

Sonn continued, "Once you cut through the complicated language, it becomes apparent that this amendment that will lead to higher health care costs for individuals and businesses, drawn out expensive lawsuits, and decreased quality of care. Colorado simply cannot afford this amendment."

The Secretary of State will work to validate the signatures over the next month.

Click here to read the Right to Health Care Choice Amendment.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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