5 Things Colorado: Reinsurance program, Pfizer’s vaccine development, Ballot initiatives

DJ Wilson is needed elsewhere today, so I’m bringing you this edition of “5 Things We’re Watching.”

We are looking forward to our 2020 Colorado State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference on November 17th!

Thanks to your support, State of Reform continues to foster this non-partisan “safe table” around which different silos from the Colorado health care community can gather. We’re very honored that you allow us to play this role, so thank you.

Michael Goldberg
Reporter

1. Reinsurance credited for keeping health care costs down

Rates in the individual market will drop by an average of 1.4% next year, according to Colorado’s health insurance companies’ final premium changes released by the Division of InsuranceSenate Bill 20-215 extended the reinsurance program, without which the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI) said Coloradans would be seeing rate increases averaging 20.8 percent higher statewide.

While the number of counties with only one insurance carrier offering plans on the individual market is shrinking from 22 to 10, Coloradans in those 10 counties still face some of the highest premiums for health coverage. Small employer plans saw average increases of 3.8 percent statewide.

2. A Conversation with Pfizer’s David Hering on COVID-19 vaccine development

This week State of Reform had the opportunity to speak with David Hering, Pfizer’s North American Regional President for Vaccines, as part of our virtual “Leadership Series.” During the one-on-one conversation, Hering spoke with host DJ Wilson about Pfizer’s work in developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

In the video interview, Hering says vaccine developers are on the cusp of a real leap in science, particularly as it relates to the mRNA model vaccines being developed by Pfizer and others. “The ability to basically tell your own cells to…provide antibodies for these diseases instead of having to put the actual virus, you know attenuated or other ways, into the bloodstream is a really fantastic advancement and one that should have broad applicability,” says Hering.

 

3. Health care initiatives on the ballot

There are several health care related initiatives on the ballot this November. Amendment B would repeal the property tax equation of the Gallagher Amendment, which would prevent automatic cuts to residential property tax rates. Passage would freeze the current rates ahead of an expected drop in the statewide residential assessment rate next year.

Proposition 118 would provide a state-run insurance plan to ensure 12 weeks of paid leave for an illness or to take care of a family member. Hospital finances could be significantly impacted by Proposition 116, which would reduce the state’s income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%, causing a revenue decline of $170M in the next fiscal year. State of Reform is tracking where health care organizations, such as the Colorado Hospital Association and Mental Health Colorado, stand on the initiatives.

 

4. ICYMI: Topical Agenda now available!

In case you missed it, last week we released the Topical Agenda for the 2020 Colorado State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference coming up on November 17th! It’s a set of topics pulled together from hours of conversations with our Convening Panel, key stakeholders, and sponsors. We’ll be exploring politics and policy in health care, discussing the future of Medicaid, and diving deep into COVID’s impact on the economy, tele-health, and health equity.

You can view the Topical Agenda here for a sense of the conversations we have teed up, and if you have suggestions for speakers let us know! If you haven’t already registered, we’d be honored to have you join us!

5. CO, AZ Health Information Exchanges plan to form regional HIE

The Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) and Arizona’s health information exchange, Health Current, are planning to join forces, connecting roughly 1,320 health care organizations between both states. The partnership would create the largest-scale regional health information exchange (HIE) in the western part of the country. A central aim of the move is to increase interoperability between the two states and boost the region’s patient data exchange services.

“The next evolution for HIEs is to become regional health data utilities for their communities, providing vital services just like the water, electric, and other essential utilities,” says Morgan Honea, CORHIO CEO. Both HIEs are expecting the deal to become official following the settlement of a formal agreement.