The backers of Colorado’s ballot initiative titled “Amendment 69 – Colorado Care” would have voters believe that their proposal is supported by a wide swath of Coloradans eager for single payer healthcare to be enacted in our state.
It is my view that Amendment 69 is a terrible idea – imposing a massive tax increase and more than doubling the size of our state government is not the answer to the distortions in healthcare markets wrought by government interference up to and especially including Obamacare.
Indeed, a recent blog post by the communications director for Colorado Care Yes (CCY) boasted about how recent campaign finance reports showed that CCY raised 94% of its funds from Colorado voters while an opposition group raised less than 1% from Coloradans.
While this is true on the surface, a deeper look into where CCY’s money is coming from is needed to see if this is truly the “grassroots” effort they claim it is.
Using publicly available campaign finance reports filed with the Colorado Secretary of State for ColoradoCareYes from the inception in 2015 to the most recent reporting period (May 16, 2016) I have compiled and analyzed the results and have found that CCY is anything BUT a grassroots effort.
Campaign Personnel Donated About 46% of the Total Funds Raised To Date
Through social media, websites and other online research I have identified over a dozen people who are associated with the CCY campaign. The three individuals who have donated the most money are the Registered Agent (David Beckwith), the Executive Director/Finance Chair (Ivan Miller) and the Campaign Director (Lyn Gullette). These three individuals alone have donated about 43% of the total funds to date. The table below shows the total amounts donated by this group of people.
The Campaign Director had also donated an additional $50,000 (bringing her total to $168,009), but that donation was returned because the campaign decided to “wait until they needed it”.
Given that this small group of people has donated almost 50% of the funds donated to date, I think it’s safe to say that this small group of individuals wants to refashion our healthcare system for reasons of their own. They are not the “grassroots”.
Donors Giving Over $1,000
The next largest group of donors who account for about 25% of the contributions to date are from a group of 11 people who have donated a total of $147,114.48.
The largest donor in this group is Ralph Ogden, a Denver attorney who has donated $60,796.12 to date. According to the International Association of Political Consultants website, Ogden is a partner in a Denver law firm specializing in litigation and is a board member of Co-Operate Colorado, “an organization dedicated to bringing a mesure [sic] to create a universal health care cooperative before Colorado voters in 2015…”
The next two largest donors in this group are Judith Burke ($25,800) and Eliza Carney ($23,570). The remaining large donors include a Kaiser Permanente physician, a New York attorney and an Oregon physician. The table below shows this group which is, again, NOT “grassroots”.
Political Committees Gave $43,700
A relatively modest amount of the donations received to date came from other political committees, mostly from the aforementioned Co-Operate Colorado that is related to Ralph Ogden, which contributed $39,000. I find it striking that there are so few donations from other political committees, which I view as an indication that the single-payer healthcare concept is not considered viable even by other left-leaning groups. Political committees are not the “grassroots”.
A Handful of Current and Former Elected Officials
As a sure sign that Colorado is not ready for single-payer healthcare, only four elected officials have donated so far, and one of them – Irene Aguilar – is a sponsor of Amendment 69. Another, former State Senator Nicholson is an active member of the campaign. Given the fact that many leading Democrats have stated their opposition to Colorado Care, this is not surprising.
Not Really “The Grassroots”
So far, 39 individuals and groups account for 78% of the donations received to date, leaving 22% of the donations coming from 46 individuals who have donated between $500 and $1,000; and a little over 1,500 who have donated less than $500 apiece, with the average donation in this group being about $44.00.
What’s more instructive is to look at the cities in Colorado that these donations have originated from and the Employer/Occupation that has donated the most.
In what should not be a surprise to anyone, the most donations – $490,815, or 83% of the total donations to date have come from just five cities (including donations by CCY personnel):
- Louisville $158,122, or 27%
- Boulder $144,044, or 24%
- Denver $120,471, or 20%
- Fort Collins $44,244, or 8%
- Westminster $23,935, or 4%
As we’ve seen in Colorado politics over the last decade or so, the Boulder/Denver/Fort Collins nexus is the source of most of the progressive agenda items that are being pushed in Colorado, and this data bears out that hypotheses. Donations from the rest of the state only amount to 14% of the total.
By far the largest occupational groups in the data (excluding CCY campaign personnel) are “Retired”, donating a total of $111,570 (19%) and Healthcare/Medical donating $42,666 (7%).
It is not clear to me why retired folks would be willing to impose a tax on themselves and others of up to 10% of their non-payroll income. Colorado Care would tax ALL forms of income except alimony and unemployment insurance, including retirement income streams. Because Colorado Care would be exempt from TABOR, the board would be able to raise taxes at will. If other government programs of this nature are any example, they will.
It is not clear to me why people who work in the healthcare professions would be in favor of a system which would rob them of their autonomy and make them into virtual employees of the State. Under Colorado Care all healthcare decisions including pricing and wages would be set by a 21 member, highly partisan, unaccountable board that is not subject to recall and is only subject to elections every four years.
Single Payer is Not the Answer
From mythical savings amounts (the promised $4.5 billion in savings is entirely hypothetical) to the fact that a tiny handful of retirees and healthcare personnel are supporting a system that would adversely impact them, it is clear that there is nothing rational about Colorado Care.
With the adverse effects of single payer being adequately demonstrated in the challenges facing the healthcare systems in the United Kingdom and Canada, it is just not rational to vote such a system in place here in Colorado.
Finally, while there are more people donating to Colorado Care Yes than to the opposition, it is clear from the campaign finance data that Colorado Care Yes is anything but a grassroots effort. Fully 78% of the donations to date have come from a small group of people who are clearly working to implement their policy goals on the rest of us. While their goals may be commendable, their promises are unverified, speculative and most likely not achievable.
Please join me in opposition to and voting “NO” on Amendment 69.
By Richard D. Turnquist
May 18, 2016
See the text of my speech against Amendment 69 here.