health care Archives - Page 2 of 11 - Colorado Politics
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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 13, 20174min1741

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.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 12, 20174min1180

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.”


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningJuly 7, 20174min2570

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.


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Floyd TrujilloFloyd TrujilloJune 27, 20175min1020

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.


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Sen. Irene AguilarSen. Irene AguilarMay 22, 20178min2590

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.


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After legislators adjourned the 120-day legislative session Wednesday night, they convened at Stoney’s Bar & Grill in downtown Denver. Gov. John Hickenlooper made the rounds with a message: Don’t make any vacation plans for the rest of May.

He told reporters Thursday he’s going to think about it through the weekend before deciding if he will call lawmakers back to Denver to work some more on transportation, funding the state energy office, health care policy and rural broadband internet, outcomes from the session that Hickenlooper called disappointing.

“With a special session you have a little more time and maybe bills can be assigned to a place where they can get a fair hearing, a public hearing,” the governor said.

“Then the media, therefore the entire state, can see exactly who’s saying what.”

An omnibus spending bill that passed on the last day of the session relies on existing state revenue. Transportation would get about $1.9 billion over the next 20 years. But from that, $500 million would go to rural infrastructure and $200 million to mass transit.

About $1.1 billion — parceled out by yearly budgeting — would go for “other” transportation needs, including clogged interstates that have driven most of the conversation to make massive new investments in the state’s transportation system.

Hickenlooper said that’s not nearly enough against $9 billion in identified needs, and eventually the state’s traffic jams are going to start hurting the state’s robust economy.

Asked by Colorado Politics what he would ask lawmakers to do differently, Hickenlooper suggested taking another look at sales taxes, but not the high 0.62 percent (on top of the state’s existing 2.9 percent), but something more reasonable might pass with voters in November.

“Let’s do it!” Sandra Hagen Solin of the business coalition Fix Colorado Roads said in a text message after the Hickenlooper’s meeting with reporters. “Let’s finish the conversation. Let’s find the middle ground on a proposal to fund our most pressing corridors that can be supported in both chambers and can secure a favorable vote by the voters.”

Legislative leaders shared a message for the governor: What’s the point?

“If he wants a tax hike, is there a legislature that’s going to put that on the ballot for him now?” Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, said in a statement. “Not this legislature, as we’ve already seen.

“Unless the governor can point to successes on any of these issues he’s guaranteed to have, he’ll just be wasting taxpayer dollars. I appreciate his desire to get things done. But we had an opportunity for him to have engaged on these issues during a 120-day session, and now it’s Day 121.”

House Speaker Crisanta Duran told reporters Senate Republicans have already demonstrated they won’t support a tax hike for roads, but instead want to take the money from other state programs and services. House Bill 1242, which she and Grantham co-sponsored, would have asked voters to pass a sales-tax hike in November to raise about $700 million a year.

“There were so many ideas incorporated in the 1242 that was the result of anybody willing to have the conversation, anybody who was willing to come to the table,” she said. “Unfortunately there were some who were just not willing to come to the table.”

With the centerpiece of the session in tatters, lawmakers were able to come together on a separate bill that will restructure the a state fee on hospital beds to move it out from under a constitutional spending cap that triggers rebates to taxpayers.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, said he wouldn’t call the session a failure — “no session is a failure” — even though fellow Senate Republicans rejected the transportation bill he negotiated and co-sponsored.

“Keep working on transportation,” he said Wednesday, as the session was finishing up. “That’s all we can do.”

The governor is also concerned that the legislature couldn’t come to an agreement on fully funding the Colorado Energy Office. Lawmakers came to an impasse on the last day of the session, severely crippling the energy office.

Broadband is another concern for the governor. Lawmakers were able to come up with $9.5 million to expand broadband into rural areas. But they weren’t able to come up with a steady more permanent stream of money.

Several of the governor’s priority health care bills also failed this year, including a bill that would have required hospitals to submit more information about how they spend the state’s Medicaid dollars.