Sparks fly at first two-sided ColoradoCare debate

Sparks fly at first two-sided ColoradoCare debate

DENVER—Last night in Frisco, home to some of the highest health care premiums in the state, state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, and former state Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk, debated ColoradoCare opponents Advancing Colorado Executive Director Jonathan Lockwood and Dr. Andrew Catron.

ColoradoCare, Amendment 69, is the single-payer 2016 ballot question proposing a $25 billion-a-year income tax hike. The proposal seeks to give an unaccountable, taxpayer-funded bureaucracy 100 percent control over health care, that will be exempt from the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

Sarah Vaine, CEO of the Summit Community Care Clinic, moderated the event scheduled to feature opening statements, moderated questions, and an opportunity for each side to ask each other questions and time for audience members to ask panelists questions. 

Lockwood throughout the debate explained why Advancing Colorado opposes the ballot proposal, advocated for free-market reforms including lifting state lines on health care insurance, innovative risk pools, customized health care plans and repealing parts of Obamacare. Advancing Colorado, which has received recognition in national and state media for spearheading the opposition coalition to the measure, is the leading voice against the proposal and recently ran a digital ad campaign called, “ColoradoCare is a killer.

During the event, though, heated audience members cut off the ColoradoCare opponents numerous times, shouting and disrupting the forum’s agenda, prompting other audience members to call for more respect.

Opponents of ColoradoCare exhibited more restraint throughout the debate until Aguilar said Obamacare was a Republican proposal, some pointing out that it was a Democratic super-majority that foisted President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the so-called Affordable Care Act, on the American people.

Due to the heated discussion and interruptions the time allotted for each side of the issue to ask each other questions was eliminated and the debate moved into audience questions. 

“Sen. Aguilar admitted in the debate that Coloradans will be forced to choose between ‘cutting services’ or raising taxes, in other words rationing care is on the horizon. She also said that in the future Coloradans could see ColoradoCare initiate deductibles, contrary to a key argument ColoradoCare proponents have spent months pushing out,” said Lockwood. “People are really scared when they find out the true colors of ColoradoCare and they are frightened to learn that the proposal puts unelected bureaucrats in between their families and their doctors, restricts choice and promotes rationing of care.”

Lockwood was outraged when Aguilar simultaneously claimed ColoradoCare would not ration care, but that Coloradans would have “choice” between rationed care and future tax hikes, something he argued was an admission the proposal is unworkable. The two tangled on whether “cutting services” or raising taxes, means rationing of care could occur, Aguilar saying it will be a choice Coloradans will get to make, Lockwood saying the bottom line is that ColoradoCare will force Coloradans to cut care, or cut paychecks. Both panelists were cut off by the moderator.

Also featured as an opponent of ColoradoCare was Andrew Catron, M.D., a board-certified Obstetrician Gynecologist (OB/GYN), who has started two practices in Colorado. He currently practices in Breckenridge, and serves as a Senior Clinical Instructor for the University of Colorado College of Medicine at Denver Health and Hospital. He has lived and worked internationally in the United Kingdom and Nepal. Catron explained the purported cost savings under ColoradoCare don’t actually make sense in terms of private practice and that women’s health care could be negatively impacted under the proposal.

The two opponents explained that former Gov. Dick Lamm, famous for his “elderly have a duty to die” comments, sits on the board of directors for the special interest group Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care, the organization behind the single-payer plan. They brought up his recent comments featured in an interview with The Colorado Statesman, advocating for constricting the delivery of care so that more money can be spent on schools and other government programs. Additionally, Lamm advocated against common understanding of the Hippocratic Oath.

“As a physician, businessman, husband, father and grandfather, I was concerned about the negative effects of Obamacare, and now I’m even more concerned with this newly proposed version of socialized medicine called ColoradoCare,” Catron added. “This $25 billion tax hike could further destabilize and damage not only Colorado’s health care, but the wonderful state of Colorado as a whole.”

Lockwood raised questions about ColoradoCare providing coverage to illegal aliens and residents of other states who state they “intend” to live in Colorado. According to ColoradoCare’s campaign the word resident means anyone and everyone as long as they are eligible for Medicaid, or live or intend to live in Colorado. Nicholson contrarily explained that it is actually not yet clear what “resident” means to ColoradoCare and that the unelected board for the health care system will get to decide in the future.

Lockwood added:

“This proposal gives a new meaning to the phrase ‘you have to pass it to know what’s in it,’ and we could see people’s lives put at risk because of ColoradoCare.”

One audience member was livid that no one answered her question about whether senior citizens have to pay into the ColoradoCare system, despite the fact they would not be receiving benefits from it. The moderator and supporters of the tax hike explained that “everyone pays for everyone.”

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Footage from the event is in the process of being rendered and can be made available to reporters upon request at jonathan@advancingco.org.