Opinion: The most important health initiative in Colorado history

By Dr. Jan Kief

Gov. John Hickenlooper recently announced the most important and ambitious public health initiative in Colorados history. The State of Health Initiative aims to make Colorado the healthiest place to live in the United States.

We at the Colorado Medical Society fully support the initiative and will be working to support its objectives through wide-ranging efforts from the 7,500 physicians, medical students and Colorado residents in our membership.

The State of Health Initiative is a comprehensive, statewide effort that brings together the governors office, physicians and other health care providers, government agencies, nonprofits, private companies and the public to improve the health and wellness of Coloradans.

We want to congratulate Gov. Hickenlooper for his leadership on this important issue and for the critical role he played in making this initiative a reality. He has built bipartisan support that makes this initiative the result of input from leaders across the political spectrum, from every corner of the state and from every major constituency in the public health arena. While other states have been held back by partisan fights that create obstacles to public health initiatives, Colorado is taking a bipartisan approach to this initiative that will make it a model for the entire country.

The State of Health Initiative works to improve the health of Coloradans in four ways:

  • Promoting prevention and wellness with programs that help individuals stay healthy or become healthier;
  • Expanding health care coverage, access and capacity with programs that ensure individuals can access care at the right time and the right place;
  • Improving health system integration and quality with programs that eliminate barriers to better care and improve the ability to work effectively within and across systems to ensure person-centered care; and
  • Enhancing the value of health care services and strengthening their sustainability with programs that redesign financial incentives and infrastructure to focus on quality and value, not volume.

In the coming weeks and months, the Colorado Medical Society will undertake a number of efforts to educate the public about this initiative and support its four program areas. In the meantime, we encourage all Coloradans to learn more about the State of Health Initiative.

Dr. Jan Kief is president of the Colorado Medical Society.