Category: Legislation - Part 5

Richest resort counties rank worst for health coverage

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Two ritzy resort counties in Colorado have made a list of the 50 worst counties in the U.S. for working people who are living without health insurance. Eagle County, home to swanky Vail and Beaver Creek, ranked 42nd worst among U.S. counties with nearly 29 percent of people who earn between 138 and 400 percent of the poverty level surviving without health insurance. Garfield County, home to many service workers for Aspen in neighboring Pitkin County, also made the list. Garfield ranked 48th worst in the U.S. with about 28.5 percent of working people lacking health…

Health law alone won’t reverse inequities

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon The Affordable Care Act may leave many of the poor and people of color behind. Thats the view of this years president of the American Public Health Association ,Dr. Adewale Troutman, who spoke in Denver last week. We are trying to incorporate 30 million people into a health care insurance system that is broken. The system is fragmented. Inequalities flourish and prevention is an afterthought, Troutman said during an event on health equity sponsored by The Colorado Trust. The system doesnt necessarily change just because you have more people in it, he said. While the Affordable Care Act, which goes into full effect…

Opinion: The role of the ‘employer mandate’ in the Affordable Care Act

By Bob Semro The decision last week to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Acts employer mandate has received lots of attention. Pundits and proponents and opponents of the ACA have argued over the decision. Some pointed to the delay and said it is proof of a train wreck in implementing the health care law. Others said the delay wont mean much at all in the long run. What was missing from the (mostly) political debate was a thorough explanation of the mandate, officially known as the employer responsibility provision. Simply put, the employer-responsibility provision will require some businesses to…

Feds brake, Colorado hits accelerator on health reform

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon The Obama Administration may be hitting the brakes on a key component of health reform, but Colorado is pushing the accelerator. Colorado exchange managers have no plans to tinker with the states small business or individual health exchange. To be honest with you, we cant undo our plan, Patty Fontneau, CEO and executive director of Colorados exchange, said during an exchange board meeting on Monday. To not offer choice would cripple us. The Obama Administration last week postponed for one year the requirement that businesses with more than 50 employees provide health insurance across-the-board or face…

Driving stoned a growing public health issue in Colorado

By Tom Walker Included in the laws passed in the waning hours of the 2013 session of the Colorado Legislature is one that has state, county and local officials bewildered. The so-called driving-stoned law, intended to minimize the public health threat of impaired drivers on the roads, is expected to be tough to enforce and likely will spark a host of changes for the legal community. The measure legalizing marijuana for recreational use was passed by voters in November. On the day after Memorial Day, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed measures asking voters to approve taxing the sale of non-medical use…

Exchange bracing to slash $9 million

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Colorados health exchange managers are bracing to cut expenses by about $9 million because federal sequestration is expected to axe 7.5 percent from a $125 million federal grant designed to help launch the exchange. Exchange CEO and Executive Director Patty Fontneau said during a finance committee meeting this week that managers are expecting a 7.5 percent cut in the newest implementation grant. Fontneau said some programs might have to withstand higher cuts than others because managers have already signed some contracts for services or technology so they cannot spread the cuts evenly across all programs. Sequestration…

Opinion: The cost curve on health care – it’s bending

By Bob Semro The biggest long-term concern with the American health care system is cost. The affordability of premiums, access to care and the impact of Medicare and Medicaid on state and federal budgets are all linked to the ever-rising costs of health care. Unless we bend the cost curve, the nations health care system will become increasingly unsustainable. The good news is that, even though costs and spending continue to increase, we have started to see a slowdown. Over the years, the news on this front has been consistently bad. For 31 of the last 40 years, health care…

Law requiring physical activity in schools a bust

By Kevin Vaughan I-News Network A 2011 state law requiring 30 minutes of physical activity a day for elementary students was supposed to provide a new tool in the fight against childhood obesity but in reality it did little more than reinforce the status quo, an I-News examination found. The measure was so gutted during the legislative process that it has meant virtually no meaningful changes in the way elementary schools are operated. The standard imposed by the law, which allows recess to count as physical activity time, was already being met by districts across the state. Two years later,…

Opinion: The pot calling the kettle black on Obamacare

By Francis M. Miller During the past month several reports have been published on cost variations in the health care system. Among medical providers, there is clear evidence of wide differences in costs and utilization both across geographic regions and institutions. When the Colorado 208 Commission studied the issue, it also found that there were great variations among what insurers, the government and individuals pay. And, recently, the Colorado Division of Insurance analyzed insurance proposals for the health exchange. Again, wide variations in insurance premiums are being proposed. Are such differences evidence of profiteering? Or, is this an opportunity for…

Opinion: Protecting Colorado health data while making costs transparent

By Tracey Campbell The news is riddled with stories of frustrations over the cost of health care and the lack of transparent information available to patients and employer purchasers. Look at the responses to the recent Time magazine article about bloated hospital costs, and the release of Medicare information about the wide variations in hospital pricing. Consumers are aghast at high and wildly varying prices, especially in light of little information about quality. The Colorado All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) is an essential tool for identifying differences in price and quality, and enabling consumers to shop for health care services in a free and transparent market….