Colorado PoliticsColorado PoliticsFebruary 28, 20184min7170

As a Type 1 diabetic, I have a choice: inject insulin or die. Every day for the last 46 years, I have injected insulin; if I go 24 hours without it, I will die a horrible death. When insulin was discovered in the 1920s, the patent was sold for one dollar. The researchers wanted to guarantee affordable access to insulin for anyone who needed it. One hundred years later, it’s a different story.


Kara MasonKara MasonJanuary 18, 20183min9080

Sometimes San Luis Valley law enforcement officers will wait to make an arrest until after the person has received medical care, according to local officials.

The reason they wait, according to the Valley Courier which reported the story last week, is because Medicaid will cover the medical costs. But once a person is arrested they lose most Medicaid benefits, and with a good number of inmates relying on Medicaid — more than 40 percent of the San Luis Valley’s population relies on the federal program — the tab is rapidly growing for local jails.

“We just really believe that that is an injustice,” Alamosa County Administrator Gigi Dennis reportedly said during a meeting with aides from Sen. Cory Gardner’s office.

The Valley Courier continues on the situation the rural southern region of the state is facing:

“I’m aghast that we treat our mental health in jail by putting them in jail,” Rio Grande Hospital CEO Arlene Harms said. “I just think that’s awful.”

Medicaid does cover the cost if an inmate stays at a hospital for 24 hours or longer. However, that doesn’t take care of quick visits to the pharmacy, dentist, emergency or clinic, which are the majority of visits.

For example, Jackson said an inmate that Alamosa County housed out in Custer County due to lack of beds suffered from an apparent heart attack. Custer County was ill equipped to handle the situation so they flew the inmate to Pueblo. The issue turned out to be an anxiety attack and because the inmate was discharged in less than 24 hours Alamosa County was left with a $23,000 flight bill.

To make matters worse, hospitals aren’t reimbursed through the hospital provider fee when treating jail populations, according to the Valley Courier’s reporting.

The news outlet adds that one solution local governments are considering is better utilizing ankle monitoring programs, since that wouldn’t terminate medical care.

And as for help from Congress and Gardner?

The senator’s aides said they couldn’t make any promises, but the meeting was good insight into the problem several southern Colorado communities are facing.


Associated PressAssociated PressJanuary 12, 201811min3630

BOISE — A giant chunk of central Idaho with a dazzling night sky has become the nation's first International Dark Sky Reserve. The International Dark-Sky Association designated the 1,400-square-mile Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. The sparsely populated area's night skies are so pristine that interstellar dust clouds are visible in the Milky Way.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 15, 20174min5620

Each week, the Colorado Dental Association has been posting real-life testimonials on social media about the impact of a state initiative extending Medicaid dental coverage to Colorado adults. Several adults from across Colorado — Denver, the Western Slope and Eastern Plains included — are being highlighted in the series being shared on Facebook, Twitter and the Colorado Dental Association website.

Children in Medicaid-insured households long have gotten coverage for their oral health care, but adults only were brought in under the state-federal Medicaid umbrella a few years ago. A Colorado Dental Association press release this week touts the effort and gives some background:

Starting on April 1, 2014, Colorado adults enrolled in Medicaid gained access to dental coverage. Colorado expanded this benefit because of the importance of dental care and the strong evidence that good oral health is substantially linked to overall physical health. Health experts agree that neglecting oral health leads to serious conditions like strokes, heart and lung disease, pneumonia and diabetes. Good oral health conversely can prevent major health conditions and supports healthy pregnancies.

What’s more, all those maladies and more become the burden of taxpayers when the medically indigent don’t have dental coverage; they wind up in emergency rooms. And that costs all of society a lot more than if they simply had seen a dentist in time.

Hence, testimonials like this one from Zaida Garcia of Aurora:

I have a really big smile. That’s one of the reasons I know I have to take care of my teeth. I didn’t always have access to affordable dental care. That didn’t do my teeth any favors. …

… I moved to Colorado two years ago, and got dental coverage by enrolling in Medicaid. I promptly found a dentist and scheduled a teeth cleaning. I ended up needing a root canal and cap for a tooth that otherwise would have needed to be pulled. …

… The cap on my tooth is the perfect shade—not too light, not too dark. I still have a big smile, because I know that nobody can tell a thing!

The subtext of the “Dental Health Matters” campaign by the dental association is to help ensure continued state funding for the program. It’s covered by interest the state earns on unclaimed bank accounts and other unclaimed assets whose owners can’t be located.

A key premise seems to be that the additional funding for the adult dental benefit is a cost-saving investment not only in the physical health of the beneficiaries but also in the fiscal health of the state in the long run.


Tom RamstackTom RamstackOctober 12, 20176min439
WASHINGTON — Colorado U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette argued in favor of a discount drug pricing plan Wednesday while the president tries to overturn much of the previous administration’s health care program. President Trump said he would sign executive orders as soon as this week to eliminate some Affordable Care Act insurance rules. The 340B drug […]

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Ernest LuningErnest LuningSeptember 19, 20175min7440

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.


Ernest LuningErnest LuningSeptember 19, 20175min3680

More Coloradans than ever have health insurance, according to a massive biennial survey released Tuesday, although the state continues to see lower rates of coverage outside the Denver metro area. The Colorado Health Access Survey found the number of state residents without health insurance dipped slightly to 6.5 percent from 6.7 percent in 2015 — the first year the survey reflected full implementation of the Affordable Care Act — and that consistency could be the big news in this year’s survey, its sponsors say.