Pedaling for health

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon

In an ambitious new health agenda, Gov. John Hickenlooper is pledging to cut the number of uninsured people in Colorado by 520,000, prevent 150,000 Coloradans from becoming obese and reduce Medicaid costs by $280 million.

Hickenlooper this week released a report called The State of Health as part of his commitment to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation.

We want to make sure that from the Eastern Plains to the San Juans, from rural communities to urban communities, that at any income, age, gender or ethnicity that everybody has the chance to live the healthiest life they possibly can, Hickenlooper said Monday when he unveiled the new report.

To emphasize his health theme, the governor and some of his top aides pedaled over from the Capitol on B-cycle bikes. The governors bike fittingly was sponsored by LiveWell Colorado, a statewide nonprofit committed to reducing obesity and promoting healthier communities in Colorado.

The report centers on four key areas of focus: wellness and prevention, expanding health access and coverage, improving health systems and boosting value while cutting costs.

We need to make sure that all Coloradans have the access to care at the right time and the right place.

Among the specific goals, Hickenlooper plans to:

  • Prevent 92,000 people from misusing prescription drugs
  • Improve oral health by ensuring that 7,500 children visit a dentist before age 1.
  • Integrate physical and behavioral health systems
  • Engage at least half of state employees in health risk assessments and encourage prevention and wellness programs

With respect to covering more of the uninsured, Hickenlooper said he plans to focus intently on cutting costs while expanding care.

Were going to expand coverage and I guarantee you were going to improve quality, but we also have to focus now on controlling costs, Hickenlooper said.

If were going to do this, its going to require all hands on deck.