News - Part 39

Five years in prison for medical marijuana grower

Christopher Bartkowicz, a Highlands Ranch man who ran a medical-marijuana-growing operation from the basement of his home, was sentenced this morning to five years in federal prison. Read the full report in the Denver Post.

Budget fun: play a game and understand why Colorado’s billion dollar shortfall will hit health hard

Want a fun diversion? Play the budget game. Zachary Barr of Colorado Public Radio makes it simple to understand why Colorados health programs and higher ed will take big hits as lawmakers slice and dice to balance the budget this year.

Record level of stress found in college freshmen

The emotional health of college freshmen who feel buffeted by the recession and stressed by the pressures of high school has declined to the lowest level since an annual survey of incoming students started collecting data 25 years ago. Read the New York Times report.

New health exchanges a huge challenge for states

Governors have deep differences over national health-care reform, but when it comes to insurance exchangesa centerpiece of the sprawling new federal law intended to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to shop for comparable coveragenearly every state is moving ahead with implementation. They are working under crushing deadlines, often with staffs thinned by layoffs. Read the report from Stateline.

Medicare official doubts health care law savings

Two of the central promises of President Barack Obamas health care overhaul law are unlikely to be fulfilled, Medicares independent economic expert told Congress on Wednesday.The landmark legislation probably wont hold costs down, and it wont let everybody keep their current health insurance if they like it, Chief Actuary Richard Foster told the House Budget Committee. Read the Associated Press story.

Opinion: Colorado’s Health Care “Affordability Act” should be repealed

By Dr. Linda Gorman This years budget hearing documents show that officials at the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing rate a piece of legislation, the 2009 Colorado Health Care Affordability Act, as their most effective program. Official response to HB11-1025, a bill introduced to repeal the tax levied by the act, will make it clear whether state officials seek to serve Colorado citizens or special interests seeking to prey upon them. If truth in advertising applied to legislation, the acts title would have landed someone in jail. In its first year, it raised health care costs by…

New law would require child-only health plans

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Major national health insurance carriers that have dropped child-only health plans in Colorado and throughout the country may be forced back into the childrens market if they wish to continue selling lucrative individual health insurance policies in Colorado. Childrens advocates, industry representatives and state officials have been meeting with lawmakers to draft a new law that likely will move forward in the coming weeks in the Colorado legislature. The measure has not been introduced yet. Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, will be sponsoring the measure in the Senate while Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver and Rep. Ken Summers,…

Lawmakers target $50 million from hospital fees to fill budget gap

By Katie McCrimmon Colorado lawmakers are targeting $50 million from the hospital provider fee to fund Medicaid spikes as the state faces a billion-dollar budget shortfall this year. The themes of this years legislative session will likely be creative budget dances like the dip into the provider fee, and cuts, cuts and more cuts. Lawmakers must balance the budget and are considering slashing everything from the popular school breakfast program for poor children to pet programs for veterans, the unemployed and other interest groups. During a Joint Budget Committee briefing with both the Senate and House health committees last week,…

In Houston, Rep. Giffords could receive brain injury treatment thousands of troops do not

The Houston hospital where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is being treated is one of the few hospitals in the country using cognitive rehabilitation therapy. The Pentagons health program, Tricare, hasrefused to cover cognitive rehabilitation therapy for the tens of thousands of service members who have suffered brain injuries in the line of duty. Read the report from ProPublica.