Amendment 69 and workers comp

To the editor,

Is there any question about the damage Amendment 69 would do to Colorado’s stable workers’ comp system?

I’ve been saying for months, along with other Colorado business leaders, that Amendment 69 is a bad idea. The effort to create a single-payer health-care system, called ColoradoCare, would have a profound and disastrous effect on the state, including my area of concern, workers’ compensation insurance.

Now, there’s new evidence that ColoradoCare would cost more money than it would ever generate. A recent study by the independent Colorado Health Institute pinpoints that Amendment 69 would scarcely raise enough money in its first year to cover existing medical costs, and in 10 years would be $10 billion dollars in the hole. 

All of these costs would be paid for by ever-increasing payroll taxes on both employers and employees as well as by taxing non-payroll income.

Clearly, every Coloradan will be affected if ColoradoCare is passed in November, but the impact on employers, injured workers and the entire workers’ comp system may be even more dramatic.

We know that Colorado’s workers’ compensation system is one of the best in the nation because of the way it effectively balances reasonable premiums for employers and fair benefits for injured workers. The system helps retain business and lure new employers with its stability and financial security, making it a prize in the state’s impressive economic trophy case.

But that stability would be shaken by ColoradoCare. Under current law, workers’ comp insurance covers the health care needs of injured workers and replaces their lost wages, or indemnity, for as long as they are out of work. But by bringing the medical payments of workers’ comp under its umbrella, ColoradoCare would strip injured workers of a highly effective medical care system. The system ensures injured workers receive high quality care in a timely way from physicians who specialize in occupational medicine and gives them opportunity to safely return to work.

– Phil Kalin, president and CEO, Pinnacol Assurance