John Kasich Archives - Colorado Politics
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Ernest LuningErnest LuningSeptember 21, 20175min6320

Colorado Democrat Michael Baca, one of the so-called "Hamilton electors" who tried to derail Donald Trump's presidential win in the Electoral College, has signed on to a federal lawsuit charging Secretary of State Wayne Williams with voter intimidation because he wouldn't allow Baca to vote for someone other than the winner of Colorado's popular vote.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningSeptember 19, 20175min6620

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet roasted a last-ditch attempt by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare Tuesday as worse than the GOP's previous effort and contended the legislation could derail bipartisan work to repair the nation's health care system. “I can’t decide whether this is Groundhog Day or the definition of insanity: every attempt is worse than the last," the Colorado Democrat said in a statement.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 10, 20178min1880

The dog days of August are over, and now the political doghouse is howling in Colorado. These week we saw our governor on the national stage, his lieutenant governor step into the spotlight on the state’s biggest stage and President Trump asserting himself in a Colorado case involving gay rights.

So many stories this week didn’t make the cut into the top five, but here are the ones worth revisiting, because of their wide impact on Colorado politics and Coloradans lives. Here are the stories our staff thought ranked as the best in the first week of September.

 

Gov. John Hickenlooper talks with reporters at the Colorado Democratic Party's election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Hickenlooper said recently he wants to make sure that the health reforms made in Colorado are secured against a likely repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act coming out of Washington. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
Gov. John Hickenlooper talks with reporters at the Colorado Democratic Party’s election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

5. Voters might weigh in on how districts get drawn

A bipartisan group is trying again to take some of the political gamesmanship out of how legislative and congressional districts are drawn in Colorado. The way it works now is that legislators draw them, which gives outsized advantage to the political party that has the majorities in the state House and Senate after the U.S. Census. As a result parties control the outcomes (and candidates) in most districts based on which voters are put in which districts. Opponents, however, see a scheme to take away political power from minorities and other “communities of interest.”

Read the full story here.

 

In this March 10, 2014 file photo, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips cracks eggs into a cake batter mixer inside his store in Lakewood, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

4. Trump adds ingredient to gay cake court case

The Trump administration is siding with a Lakewood baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012 by filing a brief in an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case. LGBTQ activists say it’s the clearest sign yet that President Trump harbors animosity toward their cause, regardless of what he said on the campaign trail.

Read the full story here.

 

Transportation The Gap
Looking north towards Castle Rock in, December as heavy traffic moves along I-25 which is two lanes in each direction. (Photo by Mark Reis/ The Colorado Springs Gazette)

3. Tap the brakes on no new taxes for roads

In the last legislative session, raising sales taxes for transportation was a no-go for Republicans who opposed asking Coloradans to pay more. The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, however, aren’t yet through with the idea of gathering petition signatures to get on the ballot in 2018.

Read the full story here.

 

In this June 27, 2017, file photo, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, right, joined by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)

2. Hick on the Hill: Colorado’s king takes healthcare national

A U.S. Senate committee and organizations on both sides of the political fence on healthcare got to hear from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper this week. Hick and Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich drafted the proposal as Congress continues its efforts to repeal, replace or fix the Affordable Care Act.

Read the full story here.

 

Donna Lynne
Colorado Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne was introduced by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, background left, at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver on March 23, 2016. Lynne, if confirmed will replace Joe Garcia. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/ The Denver Post via the AP file photo)

1. Lynne is in the governor’s race

Things just got more interesting in the 2018 governor’s race, as Gov. John Hickenlooper’s second-in-command, Donna Lynne, joined the Democratic primary field that already includes such well-known candidates as Jared Polis, Cary Kennedy, Michael Johnston and Noel Ginsburg. Can she carve out a niche as the moderate pro-business choice with Hick’s team behind her? We’ll see.

Read the full story here.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 7, 20177min2640

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper advocated a bipartisan revision to the nation’s health care insurance program during a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday.

“Many people are angry and they have a right to be,” Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said during the hearing.

Hickenlooper discussed the plan he developed with six other Democratic and Republican governors while the time for revising the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act is running out for this year.

A Senate budget resolution Republicans have been using to authorize repeal of Obamacare expires at the end of this month.

Meanwhile, insurance companies hit with huge claims are either dramatically increasing premiums or closing down their business in some states.

Virginia and Tennessee could lose all their health insurers in little more than a year unless Congress intervenes to change the Affordable Care Act, according to statements from senators at the hearing.

Fourteen Colorado counties are served by only one health insurer after the other insurance companies dropped out, Hickenlooper said. Some families are paying as much as a quarter of their income to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s requirement of buying insurance, known as the individual mandate.

“Our division of insurance is projecting premiums will increase by as much as 27 percent in 2018,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s a big problem.”

So far, all efforts by Republicans working alone to change the Affordable Care Act have failed, leaving a bipartisan plan like the one proposed by Hickenlooper as one of the few alternatives.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee scheduled four hearings in a week as it tries to salvage a new health insurance program.

Hickenlooper and his co-author of the governors’ plan, Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, will talk more about healthcare on Friday when they address a conference put on my the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal Center for American Progress.

Hickenlooper suggested Thursday that keeping the unpopular requirement that individuals must buy health insurance if employers don’t offer it, at least until Congress develops a better replacement.

Another provision of the plan calls on the Trump administration to fund cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers.

The plan also says Congress should fund a reinsurance program to pay for the care of the sickest patients, thereby eliminating their heavy costs from everyone else’s premiums.

“So many of these [insurance] pools tend to be dominated by the least healthy people,” Hickenlooper said.

He said he knew of a few patients whose health care costs exceeded $5 million a year.

“That raises premiums for everyone,” Hickenlooper said.

He wants Congress to give states more flexibility to craft their own solutions to health care costs, rather than forcing them to comply with a single federal standard.

“Existing regulations limit our ability to come up with creative solutions,” Hickenlooper said.

One of the most successful state programs mentioned during a Senate hearing a day earlier was Alaska’s reinsurance program.

The state invoked Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act to authorize shifting federal funding to state programs that bring down insurance premium prices. Alaska shifted insurance coverage for patients whose cases are the costliest to a separate pool the state funds separately through a reinsurance program.

Premiums for all other insured persons fell 7 percent afterward.

The bipartisan plan Hickenlooper proposes draws from the Alaska example.

Colorado’s primary innovation is its Accountable Care Cooperative, Hickenlooper said.

The cooperative gives residents an option of joining a system that emphasizes preventive health care, such as immunizations, health screenings and weight management.

“In Colorado, we’re trying to stretch federal dollars and pinch pennies,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s time for the federal government to work with us, not against us.”

Colorado Sen.Michael Bennet, a Democrat, said other industrialized countries pay half as much as the United States on health insurance but still provide their people with good care.

“We’re getting worse results,” Bennet said.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, issued a statement before the hearing Thursday night urging cooperation in Congress to resolve skyrocketing health care costs.

“Our current healthcare system will continue to fail Coloradans if we don’t do something to address the rising costs created by the Affordable Care Act,” Gardner said. “This should not be okay.”

Hickenlooper was joined at the speakers table Thursday by Republican Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Bill Haslam of Tennessee and Gary Herbert of Utah, along with Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana.

A group of Colorado Senate Republicans “mailed in” questions to Hickenlooper about his “nominally bipartisan” proposal.

The governor “didn’t bother to discuss his supposedly-bipartisan plan with Colorado Republicans,” Senate President Kevin Grantham said in a statement, “so we thought we’d give this a shot.”

The questions addressed the growth of Medicaid, rising premiums and a lack of details in Hickenlooper’s proposal.

“The governors’ plan offers no specific recommendation for modifying the onerous burdens in current law placed on small employer plans,” the Colorado Republicans wrote. “Does Governor Hickenlooper, as a former small business employer, have any personal thoughts or recommendations on that important issue?”

Grantham questioned labeling Hickenlooper’s plan bipartisan when only two of the nation’s 34 Republican governors signed on.

“If we’re going to come up with a Colorado solution to these issues, in a truly bipartisan way, Colorado Republicans should have a place at the table that they haven’t had so far,” Grantham wrote.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 7, 20174min1610

Colorado health insurance regulators on Wednesday made official a 27-percent average rate hike for people buying their own plans next year.

Colorado’s Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar cited continued turmoil on Capitol Hill in signing off on the rate increases, which come on the heels of a 20.4-percent rise in premium prices this year.

In doing so, she challenged Congress to pass several key reforms by Sept. 30 — promising to request those rates be lowered if lawmakers met the deadline.

“We’d be more than willing to work overtime to get those new rates certified,” Salazar said.

The announcement came a day before Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper planned to testify before a U.S. Senate committee on a plan he developed with Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich to stabilize individual markets across the nation.

The plan called for the creation of a nationwide $15 billion stability fund that would funnel extra payments to insurers and bring down the cost of their customers’ monthly premiums.

Similar programs have taken shape in Alaska and Minnesota, and Colorado officials have spent months studying how to follow suit.

The results of an actuarial study on the costs of creating such a fund in Colorado are expected by Nov. 15, Salazar said.

The Hickenlooper-Kasich plan also called for funding certain subsidies that tamp down out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans, such as co-pays and deductibles, through 2019.

The subsidy payments have become a political bargaining chip in recent months, despite warnings from insurers that ending them would destabilize state insurance markets. In Colorado, individual market rates would jump another 14 percent on average if those payments stop, Salazar said.

On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers pointed to the rate hikes as signs of the Affordable Care Act’s failings.

“This should not be OK,” said Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, in a statement. “It should not be accepted as normal that just like previous years, healthcare insurance costs will continue to go up on thousands of Coloradans next year.”

Salazar countered that insurers appeared to be turning a profit in early 2017, before Congressional Republicans’ efforts at replacing the health law swung into gear.

“We were hoping that this would be a year of stability,” Salazar said.

The rates approved Wednesday largely mirrored those requested by the nine insurance companies expected to sell plans on the state’s individual market.

The market caters to people without employer or government-based coverage, and it equals 7 to 8 percent of the state’s population.

Nearly every insurer’s rate increase – which ranged from 11.5 percent to 33.5 percent – hewed closely to their requests.

But there were exceptions.

Regulators mandated Bright Health Insurance Company impose steeper rate increases than originally requested, amid fears that the company couldn’t pay for the rush of medical claims that would follow, Salazar said.

The company’s average monthly premium rates will increase 27.4 percent in 2018, far more than the 15 percent average increase originally sought by the company.

Cigna’s proposed 41.2 percent rate increase – the largest requested hike in the state – dropped roughly 10 percentage points on Wednesday.

Still, regulators stressed that many Coloradans can avoid those price hikes by shopping on the state’s exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, which offers tax credits that rise along with insurers’ prices.


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David O. WilliamsDavid O. WilliamsSeptember 6, 201712min286
Eagle County Commissioner Jill Ryan spent more than a decade working for the Colorado Department of Public Health before entering politics, but the job change hasn’t meant much of subject change as she continues to focus intensely on runaway healthcare and insurance costs in the mountain-resort communities she represents. “People on the individual market have […]

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