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Jena HausmannJena HausmannApril 13, 20186min1456

What would you do if you had to give up your child in order to access mental health services? For some Coloradans, this is a reality. Colorado ranked 48th in the country for overall youth mental health, according to Mental Health America’s 2018 “The State of Mental Health in America” report. This same report estimates that more than 13 percent of Colorado teens ages 12-17 have had at least one major depressive episode in the last year. Suicide remains the leading cause of death for Coloradans aged 10-24, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 28, 20174min247

We’ll just cut to the chase on the results of a new poll commissioned by Children’s Hospital Colorado — and, please, be sure you are seated. From the hospital’s press release highlighting the findings:

A recent poll conducted by a leading Republican pollster finds a “universal belief” among Colorado voters across the political spectrum that regardless of what happens with the proposed healthcare bill, longstanding Medicaid benefits for children should be protected.

The most significant of the survey’s specific findings:

85% agree that “regardless of whether Obamacare [the Affordable Care Act (ACA)] is ultimately repealed or changed, Congress should maintain the longstanding benefits that Medicaid has guaranteed children since 1965”…

Wow, keep health coverage for the poorest kids as it has been — since 1965? Who could argue with that? Presumably — though it’s not part of the survey — a similar percentage wants to maintain crossing guards in school zones. And wants to see all stray puppies and kittens adopted by loving homes.

OK, so why bother to poll on the obvious? Well, it has to do with politics — more specifically, with the ongoing debate in the U.S. Senate over its pending version of legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. And more specifically still — like just about everything else in the news these days, it seems — it has to do with Colorado’s Republican junior U.S. Sen Cory Gardner. The press release explains:

“Senator Gardner has been a staunch advocate in this debate for kids,” said Jena Hausmann, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Colorado. “We’ve asked Senator Gardner to step up and fight to protect Medicaid as a safety net for children in important ways. He has, and we are counting on him.”

Children’s Colorado publicly has expressed strong opposition to the House-passed version of the bill, and also opposes the Senate’s discussion draft. The hospital is urging Colorado’s U.S. Senators to make tangible improvements to the bill in order to reduce its negative impact on children. Senator Cory Gardner has started to get traction in the Senate with provisions that would limit the Medicaid cuts to children.

Sounds like the good folks at Children’s are employing a bit of positive reinforcement on the senator, kind of wishfully implying he is right where the hospital is on Medicaid. It’s a safe bet even he doesn’t know yet where his own threshold is on reconfiguring Medicaid.

Alongside that, it also sounds like the hospital is engaging in a bit of spin. Notice how that key polling question blurs the line between “the longstanding benefits that Medicaid has guaranteed children since 1965” and what’s really on the table in the pending GOP redo on Obamacare: the Affordable Care Act’s significant expansion of Medicaid. That’s the focus of the current, intense debate in Washington and across the country; no one is talking about eliminating the children’s benefit itself — just about where to set the bar for income eligibility. It’s a bar Obamacare set a lot lower.

Whether Medicaid’s expansion was warranted or not is of course a philosophical question; whether Congress should change that standard again is a matter of politics. And the Children’s survey findings don’t seem to offer much substantive guidance in that regard.


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Jared WrightJared WrightOctober 31, 20163min351

Big Tobacco knows that if people smoke one less cigarette a day they will lose billions of dollars. So it is no surprise that out of state tobacco companies are spending more than $16 million dollars here (more than the casinos spent keeping racetrack betting in Colorado) to try to defeat Amendment 72 through a barrage of negative and misleading ads.