News - Part 4

Mental health care cuts pack prisons, ERs

By Kristin Jones I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS Theyre victims of car accidents, theyve been shot, or they threatened their parents. They have overdosed on cocaine, swallowed too many pills or passed out drunk. On an average Friday or Saturday night, they can make up about half of the sick, injured and wounded crowding the rooms and hallways of the emergency department at Denver Health. And theres one trait these patients have in common, says Dr. Chris Colwell, director of the department. Had they received needed prior treatment, they might not be there at all. These ER visitors, for all…

REACH: Be thankful for good health

By Lindsay Wolfman, RD Thanksgiving dinner can easily add up to 4,000 calories. Holidays tend to be food-focused, but you can make these foods healthier. This year, start by making better choices. Here are some tips to help you avoid that calorie-packed plate this Thanksgiving. Turkey: A lean protein, turkey has virtually no saturated fat unless you purchase a self-basting turkey that has been injected with butter or oil. Avoid these and baste your bird with low-fat, low-salt broth, wine or juice. Mashed potatoes: Save yourself some work, leave the skins on. They provide fiber and potassium. Or try mashed…

Opinion: Providers who address social determinants maximize patient outcomes

By Dr. Paul Melinkovich Each year, Colorado graduates approximately 150 new medical students and our workforce includes many other dedicated health care professionals who are a fundamental component of our health care delivery system. We all work hard, day in and day out, to address the health care needs of our fellow Coloradans. We are health care providers because we want to make people healthy. Yet, in a regular days work, we often get narrowly focused on making diagnoses, recommending treatments, staying on schedule and addressing only those symptoms that can be seen and heard inside our exam room. Our…

Opinion: Protecting patients central to physical, behavioral health reforms

By Michael Lott-Manier For just a moment, forget the politics of health care reform they wont go anywhere, I promise. Picture a low-income family able to stay safe and whole, because a parent can afford to see a therapist for anger. Think about what it would be like if fewer people ended up in prison, and more of them in jobs, because they were able to get help for mental illness and addiction earlier in life. Your friend was struggling to stay in treatment for depression, but kept falling out when her yearly allotted visits were through; now she can…

Opinion: Obamacare problems much bigger than flawed websites

By Francis M. Miller In some religious faiths, if you die and it is not clear whether you belong in heaven or hell, you are left in limbo. Presently, the Affordable Care Act is in limbo. Democrats, particularly those up for re-election in 2014, desperately want the website to be fixed so that the state of grace will be returned. Republicans, on the other hand, are fueling Dantes inferno. We should stop and remember that all previous health care acts did not turn on the success of a website. Medicare, Medicaid, ERISA and OMBRA83 never required heavy technological support. To…

Exchange revamp not likely till mid-December

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Health exchange board members on Monday pressed for immediate improvements to Colorados mandatory Medicaid application, but state officials, who contend that Colorado is a shining example among the states, refused to promise that a full slate of short-term fixes will be completed before Dec. 15. Thats the deadline for customers to buy health insurance if they want it to kick in on Jan. 1. And Colorado now could have as many as 1 million customers who need it. New data from the statewide Colorado Health Access Survey estimate Colorado has 741,000 uninsured people while the Colorados Division of Insurance recently…

Impatience mounts for immediate exchange fixes

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Colorados health exchange needs to be fixed now, not next month or next year, say increasingly frustrated board members for Connect for Health Colorado. It really had to be fixed yesterday, said Nathan Wilkes, an IT expert and chair of the exchange boards Operations Committee, who earlier this week called the mandatory Medicaid application that customers must fill out before they can move forward onerous, odious and embarrassing. He and other board members believe that the complex Medicaid application and other problems could be driving away customers. Only 3,408 people bought insurance through the exchange in…

Stuck in Colorado’s black hole

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Simultaneously excited to buy health insurance and fearful of a cancer relapse, health advocate Donna Smith tried to start shopping on Colorados health exchange on the first day. She soon struggled with computer glitches that prevented Smith and countless other hopeful customers from creating accounts in Colorado and on the federal exchange on Oct. 1. Smith kept trying and a few days later, managed to create an account. I thought, Oh, this is marvelous! Connect for Health Colorados online system then asked Smith if she wanted to try to qualify for financial assistance. Why not? She knew she wouldnt qualify…

Tepid recovery leaves one in seven uninsured

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon The number of uninsured people declined slightly in Colorado over the last two years as the economy began to rebound. But more than 741,000 people or one in seven Coloradans has remained uninsured while another 720,000 are underinsured, meaning that their out-of-pocket health costs exceed 10 percent of their income. Nearly half of the uninsured said theyve gone without health coverage for more than five years and one in 10 have never had it. We still have three-quarters of a million people who do not have insurance. Thats problematic, said Michele Lueck, president and CEO of…

Congratulations Katie!

Solutions reporter Katie Kerwin McCrimmon has been named Media Representative of the Year by the Colorado Healthcare Communicators. Since the 1970s, the Colorado Healthcare Communications has honored communications professionals across the state. Every year members nominate a representative of the news media who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to health care reporting. This year that award was given to McCrimmon.