5 Things Colorado: Canadian Rx importation, BH workforce plan, Topical Agenda

This month’s edition includes an update on HCPF’s nation-leading initiative to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada, the release of the Topical Agenda for our Colorado event in November (which you can register for here!), the BHA’s plan to strengthen the state’s behavioral health workforce, and more.

Thanks for reading!

Eli Kirshbaum 
State of Reform

 

1. Update on Canadian Rx importation

After finalizing the companies it plans to contract with to implement its Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program, HCPF is preparing a Section 804 importation plan to submit to the FDA for federal approval this fall. HCPF began its vendor solicitation process for the program in Jan. 2021 following the passage of SB 5 in 2019.

Contract awardees for the program are AdiraMedica, which will purchase the drugs from manufacturers in Canada, Premier Pharmaceuticals, which will do the actual importing of drugs to Colorado, and Rocky Mountain Poison on Drug Safety, which will provide final regulatory oversight once the medications arrive in Colorado. Taking into account the FDA’s review of drugs to be imported and the preparation of testing, relabeling, and distribution networks, HCPF predicts these lower-cost drugs could hit shelves in late 2023.

 

2. Topical Agenda for 2022 Colorado State of Reform Conference now available!

We’re so thrilled to announce that we have released the Topical Agenda for the Nov. 2nd 2022 Colorado State of Reform Health Policy Conference! This will be our first time back in Denver in-person since 2019, and the event will take place at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

We have confirmed keynotes with Kim Bimestefer, Executive Director of HCPF, and Morgan Medlock, MD, Commissioner of the Behavioral Health Administration. Panel topics include “Achieving price transparency across the continuum of care,” “Solutions for supporting the workforce,” and “A check-in on the Colorado Option.” Check it out, and also be sure to register to attend if you haven’t already—we’d love to see you there!


3. BHA outlines plan to fortify BH workforce

The Behavioral Health Administration has released a detailed plan outlining how it intends to leverage $36 million in funding—designated by SB 181—to bolster Colorado’s behavioral health workforce. The plan aims to address barriers to entry in behavioral health careers, help the behavioral health workforce provide people-centered care, and expand the number of prospective behavioral health professionals.

The plan’s strategic initiatives include broadening the peer support workforce, funding pre-licensure stipends and paid internships, and providing retention grants for behavioral health employers. Specific action items include creating a Behavioral Health Aide profession in Colorado and investing $7.9 million in the recruitment of underrepresented populations to the BH profession in an effort to increase cultural competency among providers.

 

4. The Inflation Reduction Act and Colorado

With the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a report showing that 113,000 Colorado Medicare beneficiaries stand to benefit from the legislation’s caps on out-of-pocket prescription drug spending. US Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, the Colorado Fiscal Institute, Connect for Health Colorado, and more state health policy leaders emphasized the federal legislation’s benefit for Coloradans last month.

Gaurav Nagrath, Managing Principal at Health Management Associates, described his predictions for CMS’s work implementing the IRA: “Various stakeholders will want to help inform CMS’s work on numerous issues through comments, standalone analysis, and other tools,” Nagrath said. “[CMS] also will need assistance analyzing and developing updated benefit designs and understanding how benefit redesigns and new pricing dynamics will impact business decisions, revenue, and patient behavior.”


5. State urges fall vaccinations as boosters set to be available next week

With the newly approved COVID-19 booster shots now available in Colorado, the state is urging residents to get up to date on both their COVID and non-COVID inoculations. Earlier this month, CDPHE released vaccination uptake data among Pre-Kindergarten-12th grade students for the 2021-2022 school year, which showed that over 92% of these students received all of several non-COVID vaccinations including measles and mumps.

“CDPHE is here to help families track their vaccines and make sure they’re up to date,” said Chief Medical Officer Eric France, MD. “Childhood and adolescent vaccines save lives, and all Coloradans have access to them regardless of if they have health insurance.” Heading into the school year, CDPHE reports that 47% of the state’s students have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.