5 things Colorado: Mara Baer, Health care legislation, Joshua Ewing

With a new year and a new legislative session underway, we look to a few smart policy observers to make sense of some of it in this edition of 5 Things. We’re also digging into some of the pre-filed legislation and tracking some of the early budget hearings in this year’s session.

Thanks, as always, for reading our stuff.



With help from Emily Boerger, Michael Goldberg, and Madeline Shannon


1. Health bills worth tracking in the session

While the public option has an outsized role in the policy conversation, we’ve compiled a list of health-related bills worth tracking in the 2020 legislative session. Three bills target the mental health of children and youth. One of those bills, HB 20-006, would require the Department of Human Services to create a statewide children’s mental health program. This program would dispatch early childhood mental health consultants to support children, families, physicians, caregivers, and other professionals who work with children in meeting the social-emotional needs of children under eight years old.

Another bill, HB 20-1028, also addresses the mental health needs of students with behavioral disorders, and HB 20-1068 would require doctors who perform an abortion to provide the same level of care to an infant born alive after or during an abortion as a child born at term. The legislation closely mirrors failed federal legislation from last year, S. 311.

2. Video: Mara Baer, AgoHealth

Mara Baer is the Founder and President of AgoHealth, a health care consulting firm based in Denver. Baer has over 20 years of experience in the health care industry and is a leader in supporting clients at the intersection of business and policy. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss prescription drug importation.

“I think there’s never a perfect program when it comes to health care. We are spending some time looking at how other states have drafted concept papers and applications and we’re hoping to improve upon those. For example, Florida and Vermont have done quite a bit of work in the area of drug importation, so we’re trying to learn from what they have done and build a unique program that’s specific to our community and our state.”



3. Q&A: CHA’s Joshua Ewing on the 2020 session

Joshua Ewing is the Associate Vice President of Legislative Affairs at the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA). He is one of the leading advocates for Colorado’s hospital industry and possesses a wealth of knowledge about the nuances of the health care system in Colorado.

Ewing’s insight offers a peak through the lens which the hospital industry views the health policy debates taking shape this session, such as the areas in the administration’s public option proposal that need modification. Reporter Michael Goldberg spoke with Ewing on the first day of Colorado’s 2020 legislative session to ask for his assessment of what policy issues are driving health care conversations in the state and new pieces of legislation to keep an eye on.


4. Budget hearings begin this week

The state’s Joint Budget Committee is expected to meet Jan. 16 to discuss supplemental requests from the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing. Several health policy funding issues, including the state’s reinsurance program and a “prescriber tool” that would lower the cost of prescription drugs, are set to be discussed.

The Joint Budget Committee is expected to consider supplemental requests relating to medical services premiums, the Colorado Indigent Care Program, and other medical services. Audio of the meeting will be available after the meeting on Thursday.



5. Capretta: GOP on health care in 2020

Jim Capretta’s latest column for State of Reform evaluates the direction of a potential GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Capretta identifies four higher-profile initiatives that Republicans are most likely to embrace as they try to counter Democratic plans.

These initiatives include changes to health reimbursement arrangements, “liberalizing the rules” for selling short-term, limited duration insurances, and new rules around price transparency and drug pricing. From Capretta: “What is likely to emerge is a strategy focused on political messaging rather an actual plan, with an emphasis on the regulations and administrative actions taken by the president during his term. There also will be vigorous attacks on whatever reforms are endorsed by the eventual Democratic nominee.”