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The Associated Press August 27, 2010, 10:52AM ET

Health overhaul question headed to Colorado ballot

Coloradans will get to weigh in on the health care overhaul this fall with a ballot measure that would try to block provisions of the federal health reform law.

Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buescher said Thursday that backers collected the required number of signatures to put the proposed state constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

Amendment 63 supporters were among the groups that won a court battle in June to prevent the state from enforcing restrictions on paying people to circulate petitions for initiatives.

"To all the interest groups that have worked so hard to keep us off the ballot, I've got three words for you: 'Game on baby,' " said Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a conservative think tank.

The amendment would prohibit the state from forcing residents to buy public or private health insurance, said Caldara, head of Health Care Choice for Colorado. It would also protect fee-for-service health care by ensuring Coloradans can choose to pay out of pocket for health care services and products, he added.

The measure is seen as largely symbolic because federal law generally trumps state law. It's similar to one overwhelmingly approved in Missouri earlier this month.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican up for re-election, has also joined other states in a pending lawsuit over the health insurance requirement. Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, has criticized Suthers' decision.

A group including doctors, hospitals and religious figures has formed to fight the ballot proposal. The amendment would lead to higher health costs for insured people and businesses forced to absorb costs of the uninsured, said Edie Sonn of the Colorado Medical Society.

"Amendment 63 is costly, complicated and it does not belong in the Colorado Constitution," Sonn said.

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