Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 1, 20173min161
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday continued his marathon assault against Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act. The Democrat focused on “ongoing threats to undermine and defund our health care system,” underscoring President Trump’s proposal to default on making cost-sharing reduction payments on health insurance. “On a state level we see firsthand in very […]

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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 27, 20173min179

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, again joined with Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio in a bipartisan showing of opposition to the U.S. Senate health care bill.

Hickenlooper and Kasich brought together a group of 10 governors in sending a letter to Senate leadership to voice their concerns with the legislation.

The governors call upon the Senate “to reject efforts to amend the bill into a ‘skinny repeal,’” which the elected officials fear would result in fewer Americans having access to coverage.

The letter is addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York.

“We urge you to set aside this flawed bill and work with governors, both Democrats and Republicans, on solutions that will make health care more available and affordable for every American. True, lasting reforms can only be achieved in an open, bipartisan fashion,” the letter states.

In addition to Hickenlooper and Kasich, governors from Louisiana, Montana, Virginia, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Vermont signed the letter. Hickenlooper and Kasich have been routinely speaking out against congressional health reform efforts in recent weeks.

The Senate this week narrowly approved a procedural motion to begin debate on legislation aimed at repealing the Affordable Care Act. The question is what Republicans come up with to replace so-called “Obamacare.” The Senate has settled in for a lengthy debate on various proposals.

The focus is on a so-called “skinny bill,” which would rollback the Obama-era health care law on individual and employer mandates.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, voted this week to move ahead with debate, lending a crucial vote that contributed to the dramatic 51-50 victory for President Trump, in which Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote.

The 10 governors in their letter pointed to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who returned from Arizona, where he is battling brain cancer, to cast a crucial vote on proceeding on the health care debate. McCain called for a “return to regular order” and working across the aisle.

“Congress should be working to make health insurance more affordable while stabilizing the health insurance market, but this bill and similar proposals won’t accomplish these goals,” the governors wrote to Senate leaders.

They hope to fix unstable insurance markets and control costs.

“The next best step is for senators and governors of both parties to come together to work to improve our health care system,” the governors wrote. “We stand ready to work with lawmakers in an open, bipartisan way to provide better insurance for all Americans.”


Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 13, 20174min240

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman will hold a town hall meeting on Aug. 1 in Henderson as protests continue over GOP-led health reform efforts.

The town hall planned for 6 p.m. at Prairie View High School follows a meeting the congressman held in April when an angry crowd assailed him, resulting in national headlines.

Protesters repeatedly hammered Coffman on health care during the April town hall in Aurora, located in the 6th Congressional District, one of the most competitive districts in the nation.

Coffman is facing a challenge by several Democrats, who are battling in a spirited primary.

Former Obama adviser Levi Tillemann announced his campaign at the end of June. Attorneys Jason Crow and David Aarestad are also filed in the race, as is Littleton resident Gabriel McArthur.

An advisory for the planned August Coffman town hall says, “During the town hall meeting, Coffman looks forward to a robust and informative discussion about all of the critical issues facing our community, state, and nation.”

Coffman also plans to discuss his upcoming legislative agenda.

Registration is required for the event. For those who can’t attend, it will be live-steamed on Facebook.

Coffman is sure to again find himself answering questions on Republican-led health reform efforts, despite trying to distinguish himself from other Republicans in the conversation.

Coffman on Tuesday sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, offering an “alternative approach” to replacing the Affordable Care Act.

“I believe we all share a common objective of making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans,” Coffman wrote.

He outlined a three-step approach, including addressing Medicaid expansion through budget reconciliation, a maneuver that allows the majority to bypass a filibuster. Coffman also proposed using reconciliation to repeal the individual and employer mandates and several ACA taxes and penalties.

The second step would be to address taxes and penalties that impact wealthy Americans through a separate tax reform effort in Congress.

Coffman’s third proposal would be to tackle reform to health insurance exchanges through a separate bipartisan legislative process.

“We should take an approach that does not impact those Medicaid services unrelated to the ACA’s expansion, such as skilled nursing for seniors, services for children, and for the disabled,” Coffman wrote in the letter.

“I think we should continue the Medicaid Expansion program as an optional Medicaid program, but only if it has a cost share no different than the standard FMAP (Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentages) for each respective state.

“It makes no sense to me for the federal government, under the ACA, to pay 90 percent or more for an able-bodied adult without dependent children, but 50 percent for a disabled child.”

Coffman also supports switching states to a block grant model for Medicaid expansion funding.

“We should also expect all able-bodied working-age individuals, seeking public assistance, to demonstrate that they are affirmatively taking steps to become self-sufficient,” he continued in the letter.


Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 12, 20174min180

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper continued his push against GOP-led federal health care reform this week, suggesting that progress in Colorado would be curtailed.

The governor used a recently released “State of Health Scorecard” to underscore his message. In 2013, the state set goals around reducing costs and improving the quality of health care. Hickenlooper said the state has completed most of the targets, in some cases going beyond the initial goals.

Examples given are that 93 percent of Coloradans have coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Access has also expanded in Colorado, with the state recruiting over 550 doctors and nurses, many in rural communities.

Hickenlooper said Medicaid in Colorado has saved the state more than $280 million since 2013 by reducing emergency room visits and increasing preventative care.

But federal health reform efforts in the U.S. House and Senate threaten to rollback that progress, Hickenlooper said. He added that Colorado would see a cut of about $1.5 billion per year from its Medicaid budget based on the Senate version.

“It’s worth looking at the Senate bill and what that would do to all of the progress that we have had. How much it would push us backwards,” Hickenlooper said Monday, standing outside the Federico F. Peña Southwest Family Health Center in Denver.

The governor acknowledged that the state still has more work to do on health reform, pointing out that opioid deaths have tripled over the past 15 years. And while Colorado is still the thinnest state in America, obesity rates are going up.

The Federico F. Peña Southwest Family Health Center serves patients who have benefited from coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act.

“All of us at Denver Health are very concerned about what a rollback of that Medicaid expansion would look like,” said  Robin Wittenstein, chief executive of Denver Health. “We certainly hope that the decision-makers in Washington will realize that leaving 22 million Americans without insurance is not in anyone’s best interest.”

Hickenlooper took issue with the notion that the Senate health reform bill was crafted in secret, without Democratic input.

Colorado Politics asked U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, one of 13 Republicans to work on the legislation, about the bill being crafted behind closed doors.

“This is the outcome of the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in the most partisan of fashions. Not a single Republican vote was a part of it,” Gardner said. “I hope that can change. I hope Democrats will start working on a solution.”

“Two rights don’t make a wrong,” Hickenlooper responded. “The Affordable Care Act is a very different document that had it just been done in secret by one party.”


Ernest LuningErnest LuningJuly 7, 20174min634

It wasn't how state Rep. Justin Everett, a Littleton Republican and candidate for state treasurer, planned on spending his day, but relentless campaigning — covering some 31 counties in three months without a day off, he says — landed the 45-year-old in the hospital for a spell on Thursday after suffering what turned out to be a wicked case of dehydration.


Floyd TrujilloFloyd TrujilloJune 27, 20175min155

I’m proud to have served my country — but my country, or more precisely its health care system, has been falling short in recent years. The VA facilities have had well-known problems and 1.75 million veterans who rely on Medicaid for their health care are facing an uncertain future. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) clearly needs to be repealed, but a simultaneous replacement guaranteeing fair coverage must be enacted as well.


Sen. Irene AguilarSen. Irene AguilarMay 22, 20178min425

Measures brought before the Colorado General Assembly in this legislative session have shown that the contentious national debate on immigration has been jolting our state’s politics as well. As the federal government has shifted its policies to penalize so-called sanctuary cities and aggressively deport immigrants, we’ve seen conflicting bills introduced here on whether our state and cities should cooperate with the government to enforce immigration laws.