Colorado votes for assisted suicide but against universal health care and higher cigarette taxes

Colorado voters passed its assisted suicide proposition Tuesday night, but rejected ColoradoCare — a proposed universal single-payer health care plan — and Amendment 72, which would have raised taxes on cigarettes in order to fund programs to combat smoking and lung cancer.

Proposition 106: approved

Colorado will join Oregon as the sixth state to make assisted death legal. Proposition 106 was overwhelmingly approved tonight in Colorado, which will make assisted death legal among patients with a terminal illness who receive a prognosis of death within six months.

Julie Selsberg, co-petitioner of Proposition 106, commented on the approval of the proposition.

“Today, Colorado makes history, as we are now the 6th state to authorize medical aid in dying to a certain subset of terminally ill citizens. My dad wanted this option, for peace of mind in his dying days and, ultimately, for the opportunity of a gentle passing. Now we know that Coloradans believe that offering the option of medical aid in dying is the kind, compassionate, safe and just thing to do. My dad’s dying wish was carried out by an extraordinary corps of statewide volunteers and campaign staff who answered the call of the terminally ill.”

Modeled off of Oregon Measure 16, passed in 1994, Proposition 106 will allow patients over the age of 18 with a terminal diagnosis and under six months to live to—if they are deemed mentally capable and able to communicate an informed decision—self-administer aid-in-dying drugs. It will also make coercing a patient to request the drugs a criminal offense. Supporters note the beneficial control in medical decisions the proposition will now give to patients and doctors.

Amendment 69: defeated

Colorado has not become first state in the U.S. to achieve universal health care, with the failure to pass Amendment 69.

By establishing a political subdivision of the state known as ColoradoCare, this amendment would have advocated for covering the gaps that remain in the Affordable Care Act through lowering administrative costs, adjusting payment rates to health care providers, increasing transparency and reducing the amount of unpaid care provided by health care providers.

ColoradoCare would have allowed Coloradans to receive healthcare regardless of how an injury or illness occurred, if they can pay for the services, and it would eliminate deductibles and some copays as well as mandate comprehensive coverage of 11 additional services, including ambulatory patient services, chronic disease management and mental health services.

Funding for the program was proposed to be covered by a 10 percent payroll tax, with two-thirds paid by employers and one-third paid by employees and supervised and run by a Board of Trustees, elected by beneficiary members.

Amendment 72: defeated

Colorado did not receive enough votes to raise the tax on cigarettes, by $1.75 per pack of 20. Jake Williams, Executive Director of Healthier Colorado and one of the two original proponents of the Amendment 72 initiative, commented on the defeat.

“This is a major setback for Colorado in the fight against the number one cause of preventable death in our state. Amendment 72 would have reduced smoking, especially among children, and would have invested money in programs to support veterans and those most harmed by smoking.”

Revenue from this tax would have contribute to health-related programs currently funded by tobacco taxes, research on tobacco-related health issues, education and prevention, veteran employment, health, and homelessness prevention, and other human services. Raising the tax also aimed to reduce cigarette and tobacco consumption, especially in adolescents.

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