ProgressNow Colorado Opposes Amendment 69, Calls For Nationwide Health Reform

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: From NARAL Pro Choice Colorado’s Karen Middleton, we’re watching for coverage of today’s presser:

I am here today to restate our opposition and to make it perfectly clear that without comprehensive women’s health care, including insurance coverage for abortion care, this measure will not serve women and families in Colorado and is not in fact, universal.

In 1984, Colorado voters passed a constitutional ballot measure that explicitly bans any public funds to be used for abortion care…

Because Colorado Care would be subject to Section 50 as a “political subdivision” of the state, Colorado Care would be prohibited from providing coverage for any abortion services to women except when continuing the pregnancy would endanger the life of the pregnant woman.

This means that presently insured women – more than 550,000 women of childbearing age in Colorado – who, today, have insurance coverage for abortion services as part of their contracted benefits today, will lose access to abortion coverage benefits if Amendment 69 passes. This is not an abstract figure. It includes me, many of my staff, NARAL supporters and average Coloradans.


In the wake of studies from NARAL Pro Choice Colorado and the Colorado Health Institute revealing significant unintended consequences that could result from the passage of Amendment 69, the Board of Directors of ProgressNow Colorado voted to oppose the ballot measure despite broad agreement with the ColoradoCare campaign’s stated goals.

“The first thing I want is to acknowledge the goals and passion of the supporters of Amendment 69,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Ian Silverii. “Even after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which has expanded access to healthcare for millions of Americans, we know more work is needed to ensure every American is affordably covered. Too many people remain uninsured and underinsured. As a result, far too many people in this country die prematurely from preventable and treatable conditions.”

“The truth is, nothing would make progressives in Colorado happier than taking a bold step toward single-payer health care,” Silverii said. “But there are real policy problems with Amendment 69 that its supporters did not anticipate. When our trusted partners on the issue of protecting reproductive choice tell us that a measure could create serious roadblocks for women who need abortions, we have to take that seriously. When one of the state’s leading health care research organizations tells us this is a plan that doesn’t work fiscally, we have to take that seriously.”

“While we agree with supporters of Amendment 69 that more reform is needed, there is so much good news on health care in Colorado we need to be talking about,” said Silverii. “Thanks to Obamacare via the state’s visionary Medicaid expansion and the launch of Connect for Health Colorado, we have cut the uninsured rate in our state in half. Instead of abandoning the progress we’ve made in Colorado in recent years, we need to focus on protecting the gains we’ve already made–and building on that progress instead of starting from scratch.”

“Amendment 69 is a well-intentioned but flawed proposal,” Silverii said. “Let’s move forward in 2017 with reform on a national level, and let the success we’ve already enjoyed in Colorado be a model to be proud of.”

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Moderatus says:

    Jill Stein 2016!!!!!!

  2. Not Dame Edna2 says:

    I can't believe this but I agree with Moderatus. I feel like my fellow Democrats have sold their souls. Using NARAL and CFI's misleading headline on A69's sustainability. While CFI's headline that A69 isn't sustainable, if you actually read the report, it says the opposite. And it bases some assumptions on the premise that the state wouldn't get the full Medicaid funding. The amendment itself says that in order move forward, a waiver from the Fed's to get that money would be required.

    And as far as NARAL goes, I'll throw this out on the abortion issue that NARAL claims to protect: 

    In 2008, only 12% of abortions nationwide were paid for by private insurance.

    42% of abortions were performed on women in poverty. Among women with private health insurance, 63% paid out of pocket anyway, for various reasons.


    Jones, R. K., Finer, L. B., & Singh, S. (2010). Characteristics of US abortion patients, 2008. New York: Guttmacher Institute. Available: http://www.guttmacher. org/pubs/US-Abortion-Patients.pdf. 

    According to the Kaiser Institute, the total cost of healthcare in Colorado is $32.105 billion.Roughly 15,000 abortions were performed in Colorado in 2011. At an average cost of about $500 for a surgical abortion, that means that the expenditure for abortions in Colorado was about $7.536 million (though actually less, because of numerous subsidies).Cost of abortions / total cost of healthcare = $7.536 million /$32,105,000 million = 0.000235 = 0.0235%

    In words, the cost of abortions in Colorado is less than three-hundredths of one percent of all health care costs.

    NARAL CO opposes expansion of accessible, affordable health care to every resident of Colorado over the possible Constitutional prohibition against 0.0235% of health expenditures in the state.

    • mamajama55 says:

      Thank you, NDEdna.  Here's some food for thought – legal reasoning countering NARAL's assumptions that Coloradocare would restrict legal abortion:

      "Amendment 69 has a long history in Colorado that goes back to at least Sen. Aguilar's SB 11-168. In 2013 two test initiatives (Initiatives 11 and 12) were submitted to the Title Board although never approved for circulation. Between 2013 and 2015 more work was done in order to develop Initiative 20/Amendment 69. As best I can discern at no point in time did NARAL or any other similar organization, in a developmental process that now goes back 5 years, advance the conflict between the program in Amendment 69 in its different forms and Amendment 3 as something that required stronger language.

      This is important context when one considers their opposition as they have had ample opportunity to express their technical concern (as their statement notes they see a "potential" for an issue, not a definitive outcome) and yet have not chosen to do so until after the Amendment qualified for the ballot (the very final stage in the process.)

      Concerning the legal aspects, as I noted on the main campaign page:

      ColoradoCare is authorized to provide any health care benefits the Board of Trustees chooses to (Amendment 69, Section 6(b)).

      As abortion services may only be provided by licensed physicians and are in certain limited circumstances provided as health care under Medicaid there is no question that abortion services are health care.

      Later-enacted amendments in Colorado take precedence over previously enacted. Amendment 69 (2016) would be later enacted than Amendment 3 (1984). For further discussion of this please see the Colorado Health Foundation's legal analysis of Amendment 69 in which they examine this issue in the context of other conflicts.

      As such, under Amendment 69 ColoradoCare can provide abortion services in any manner authorized by the Board of Trustees, regardless of Amendment 3's restrictions. Under this reasoning NARAL will never have a better chance of overturning Amendment 3's restrictions than Amendment 69.

      As it turns out reasonable people can examine the same set of facts and come to different conclusions. However the absurdity of the suggestion that Sen. Aguilar, as a 2015 NARAL Pro-Choice Champion and owner of a 100% lifetime NARAL rating (from the report cards on their site), would help craft and advocate for a measure restricting abortion rights should speak for itself."

      – analysis by Arn Menconi, Green Party candidate for Senate

    • bobster1 says:

      Thanks for telling Colorado women their health care should take a back seat to more important concerns. Here's the relevant part of NARAL’s statement:

      One of the most disturbing arguments we have been offered, is we should remain neutral despite the severe policy issues surrounding this, and wait for it all to be worked out after the fact. This amounts to nothing more than "waiting our turn while the more important issues” are addressed.

      Women – and women’s health care – have been asked to take the back seat more than once.  It may be whether we include women in the research on signs of a heart attack, whether we include women as candidates at the top of the ballot, whether we include maternity insurance, or this time, whether we should simply wait to find out if presently available abortion insurance coverage will remain safe in Colorado.

      My answer and NARAL’s answer to this, is a resounding NO.

      What part of NARAL as an abortion rights organization to you not get? They oppose any and all limits on abortion access, whether it's parental consent or Amendment 69. It's what they do and who they are.


    • (((JADodd))) says:

      Not Dame Edna2 – Your figures are old but demonstrate the shallowness of NARAL's and ProgNow's analysis.

      According to NARAL's own website the average cost of a first-trimester abortion is approximately $400. More costly abortions generally involve a risk to the mother's life which could be covered by ColoradoCare.

      The average deductible for private health insurance has risen to just over $3,000. Which means that for most women, an abortion will have to be paid out of pocket.

      Poor and working class women – who need the most financial assistance to even pay the modest cost for an abortion – are covered by Medicaid which is prohibited from paying for abortions.

      I'm not sure what is going on with NARAL and ProgNow. I'm inclined to think that they are providing political cover for Bennet, Hickenlooper and other neo-liberal Democrats who are in the pockets of the private insurance and medical provider industries.

      • Pseudonymous says:

        I expect they're coming out now to provide cover for state-level candidates, particularly more liberal ones, and Morgan (I think Gail would be happy coming out against this herself).  Folks who might have a hard time saying they don't approve of universal healthcare when they've been calling for universal healthcare.  They've decided to lift what they see as an obstacle to a state senate takeover/house hold.

        I expect that's why you don't see the same folks opposing the oil and gas initiatives in terms of their placement in the state constitution, and might not have heard the same around Amendment 64 or Amendment 41 back in the day.

  3. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    How come there are two threads on the same topic? 

    • mamajama55 says:

      One pre-press conference, one post-.

      Advancing Colorado's Lockwood is yoicking it up in the Denver Business Journal. Sounds familiar – I think I just heard PCN say the exact same things. By the way, that study by the Colorado Health Institute saying that Coloradocare will run out of money – they're predicting that will happen in 2028. More than enough time to make adjustments. These same arguments were made for privatizing social security. 

      August 2016

      Jonathan Lockwood

      August 8 at 12:56pm · Denver, CO ·

      ColoradoCare will bankrupt families and kill Coloradans through rationed care. Read my commentary today in the Denver Business Journal:

      "Opponents of the measure immediately jumped on the report as evidence that the constitutional amendment would replace a stable, if somewhat unpopular, existing health-care system with one that would be plagued by runaway costs and an inability to provide adequate care.

      'This study confirms what we already knew: ColoradoCare is nothing but a scam that will spark future tax hikes and ration health care,' said Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Advancing Colorado, a conservative group that is one of the leading opponents of the initiative. 'This proposal is dangerous and must be stopped.'"

      ColoradoCare tax increase would not cover costs of universal health care, report says – Denver Business Journal

      While the proposed constitutional amendment…

  4. mamajama55 says:

    May I note that it's easy to be vaguely "for" national health reform, and for a single payer, "Medicare for All" system. It's also easy to trash anyone who comes out with an actual plan, in favor of some pie in the sky day when all of the Democrats suddenly disregard their hundreds of thousands in health insurance campaign contributions and miraculously do the right thing.

    When legislators  and "progressive activists" like ProgressNowColorado don't even have the common courtesy to communicate with the Senator who's been leading the fight on this issue in Colorado for the last five years, before they stab her in the back and undermine her work, it's hard to see how they will ever get anything done at all. They have flunked community organizing 101.

  5. mamajama55 says:

    Bobster, I was marching in the street for abortion rights when you were playing Donkey Kong. Before Roe v Wade,in fact, as a radical teen. I do not need a man to lecture me on abortion rights, thanks. Are you one of those Manifists that like to lecture women about how to be a real feminist, and accuse us of promoting unicorns and sparkleponies, i;e. not being capable of reason and logic, if we happen to disagree?

    What I posted was a reasoned, legal argument that NARAL is wrong about Coloradocare limiting abortion rights.  The gist is that if voters pass amendment 69 in Colorado,

    ColoradoCare is authorized to provide any health care benefits the Board of Trustees chooses to (Amendment 69, Section 6(b)).

    As abortion services may only be provided by licensed physicians and are in certain limited circumstances provided as health care under Medicaid there is no question that abortion services are health care.

    Later-enacted amendments in Colorado take precedence over previously enacted. Amendment 69 (2016) would be later enacted than Amendment 3 (1984). For further discussion of this please see the Colorado Health Foundation's legal analysis of Amendment 69 in which they examine this issue in the context of other conflicts.

    The other argument I've seen is that, because of the Hyde amendment (amendment 3), poor women flat out do not have access to abortion services paid for by the state, and haven't except in cases of threat to life, since 1984.  Women under Obamacare face the same dilemma in various states; needing to purchase abortion insurance "riders" becaue the federal money in the exchanges won't buy abortion. Is this fair or right? Od course not. Women who have health insurance do not encounter this problem. Probably, if Coloradocare were implemented, money for abortion services would have to be separated out in the Federal stream, as it has in several states implementation of the ACA.

    I also take Senator Aguilar, the author, expert,  and moving force on this, at her word:

    Irene Aguilar shared The Other 98%'s photo.

    August 2 at 10:43pm ·

    With ColoradoCare all women will have free birth control. This would further decrease unintended pregnancies in our state and abortions. Vote YES on Amendment 69.

    No automatic alt text available.

    The Other 98%

    Senator Aguilar is not going to be advocating for policy that harms women's reproductive choice. Or are you tagging her with the "sparkle ponies" line, too?

    One more thing, cause I'm signing off for tonight:

    Today's shindig was brought to you by the health insurance industry. Coloradans for Coloradans is an astroturf group that raised $1 million this year:

    The anti-single-payer effort is funded almost entirely by health care industry interests, including $500,000 from Anthem Inc., the state’s largest health insurance provider; $40,000 from Cigna, another large health insurer that is current in talks to merge with Anthem; $75,000 from Davita, the dialysis company; $25,000 from Delta Dental, the largest dental insurer in the state; and $100,000 from SCL Health, the faith-based hospital chain.

    Nice bedfellows, ProgressNow and NARAL.

  6. bobster1 says:

    Again, you're spouting gibberish & missing the point. Colorado Constitution forbids public money paying for abortion. When health care is turned over to the state as a public entity, women who have coverage will lose it and have to pay for it themselves.
    That means Amendment 69 isn't universal health care – and you yourself just admitted to that.

    From NARAL CO's statement:

    It has been suggested that abortion care services are not as frequent or as important as other forms of health care.

    It has been suggested that access to other areas of reproductive women’s health care will eliminate the need to provide abortion care.  Tell that to the woman with the life-threatening pregnancy, or the woman with four children who knows she is unable to care for a fifth or simply the woman trying to make healthy decisions for herself whose contraception failed her.

    It has been suggested that we could just start a little fund on the side – perhaps gifts, grants and donations – to offset this loss of abortion coverage? This smacks of a ‘backseat’ strategy and it will not solve anything.

    Abortion is a part of women’s health care and it needs to be included in any program that is universal.

    Experts agree: the American Congress of Obstetrician Gynecologists, "Safe, legal abortion is a necessary component of women’s health care.”

    Amendment 69 does not include it.  It cannot add, hope for it or make us wait to fix it later.

    Again, women are asked to take a back seat to 'more important' concerns on Amendment 69. Not just No, but Hell No.

    • mamajama55 says:

      So I'm sure you were just as outraged by the lack of funding for poor women's abortion services under Obamacare. 23 states restrict the abortion services available through the health exchanges. Colorado is one of them. Women often have to purchase abortion "riders" if they want insurance coverage. I'm sure you'll be expressing equal outrage at the ACA anytime now. Any.

      Haven't you been outraged, and yelling, "Hell No!" since the state legislature approved the health exchanges in 2011? I'm sure if I search, I can find you and, of course, ProgressNowColorado, and Crisanta Duran, and the other legislators, all vowing never to fund an insurance exchange in Colorado unless it funded abortions for poor women and overturned the Hyde amendment. Funny. I can't seem to find those ringing declarations. Perhaps you'd like to correct the record now.

  7. LaSenadoraAguilar says:

    I want to state that I have been recognized by both NARAL and Planned Parenthood as a champion for women's reproductive rights, including abortion. I have had the privilege of voting down measures our Republican colleagues bring forward to try to limit our constitutional rights to abortion. I understand why NARAL, given its mission, would need to oppose Amendment 69. They are concerned that it rolls back insurance payment for abortion.  That is a legitimate concern for an organization whose goal is to make access to abortion available at the same level as access to other medical care.

    I would like to use a medical analogy for other progressives who are considering the potential conflict between amendment 69 and advances in abortion coverage – "risk- benefit analysis".  

    The potential benefit of Amendment 69 is that the 350,000 Coloradans who do not have insurance, the 700,000 Coloradans who are underinsured and the 1.3 million Coloradans on Medicaid who experience financial discrimination will all have unfettered access to not only reproductive care but full medical care. The estimated 535 people in Colorado who die each year due to lack of medical coverage will have a chance to live. All women will have access to long acting reversible contraceptives which decreased teenage pregnancy 40% and decreased abortion 42% in Colorado. 

    The potential risk is that amendment 69 will not be able to pay for abortions. Fortunately only 10,000 women accessed abortion in 2015 and nationally only 12% of women used their insurance to pay for abortion.  Additionally, there is nothing to prevent progressive organizations from pursuing an initiative to remove the state restrictions on use of funds for abortion. And hopefully President Hillary Clinton will successfully remove the Hyde amendment and allow women on Medicaid access to abortion. 

    My choice is to save lives now with ColoradoCare AND pursue repeal of our outdated constitutional amendment restricting abortion. I am happy to introduce a referred measure to do this in the 2017 legislative session if Progress Now would like to join me.

    • mamajama55 says:

      ProgressNowColorado? Alan Franklin? Ian Silveri? Amy Runyon-Harms? Anyone willing to take the good Senator up on her offer to do away with the Hyde amendment?

      OK, maybe that's too tough. We'll leave that one for the real warriors like Dr. Aguilar. But how about a simple apology for acting like a bunch of jerks? You know – when you refused to answer her phone calls, and called a press conference undermining five years of work for not only her, but for the 2400 volunteers, 150,000 petition signers, and thousands of small Colorado contributors to Coloradocare?



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