Coloradoans working to block federal health-care reform

The libertarian-leaning Independence Institute is already at work on a state constitutional amendment that would block some of the proposed federal health care reforms, reports Jessica Fender at the The Denver Post.

Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute said Tuesday that he is still working on the language for his proposal, which would then need signatures from 76,047 voters to make the ballot. But he intends to find out in the fall whether voters want to stop the federal government from dictating insurance requirements to Coloradans….

Caldara’s proposal aims to bar the state from requiring its citizens to purchase health insurance, ensure Coloradans can pay out-of-pocket for health care expenses and allow them to purchase plans from other states.

He hopes to make a draft of the initiative public next month.

Meanwhile, freshman state Rep. Cindy Acree, R-Aurora, says she’ll also push the state legislature to opt out of federal reform.

A New York Times story published Sunday argued that about a dozen states are working on similar proposals. It also noted that such amendments would be largely symbolic—since any federal legislation would supersede a state amendment.

Moreover, the Times argued that the proposals were largely being floated in states in which the health care industry had spent heavily. It noted, for example, that nearly all of the 42 Florida state legislators backing such an amendment received particularly large campaign contributions from health care interests.

“The states are the next battle,” said Richard Kirsch, national campaign manager for the liberal advocacy group Health Care for America Now, “and the insurers and health care industry are primed up and ready to go. The industry has enormous power at the state level, and very few states have state-level consumer groups that are able to lobby effectively against them.”

The Denver Post reported that Colorado ranked second among the Rocky Mountain West states in campaign contributions accepted from the health care industry in the last three elections, according to the doctorInstitute on Money in State Politics

Democrats interviewed by The Denver Post cautioned opponents to wait and see what health care reform actually looks like before proposing constitutional amendments to opt out of it. They pointed out that the House and Senate bills still have to be reconciled.

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Katie Redding

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