5 Things Colorado: Q&A with Dr. Rep. Caraveo, Reinsurance bill, Behavioral health task force

We are nearing the home stretch for a legislative session set to end on May 3rd. Health care has had a significant role this session, some of which we have highlighted for you below in our monthly newsletter.

These 5 Things may not be the five most important things for your radar screen, but our goal is that you take one or two things from each newsletter that you can dig into later.  So, thanks for reading and please always feel free to tell us how we are doing.


With help from Sara Gentzler




1. Q&A with Dr. Rep. Yadira Caraveo

Dr. Rep. Yadira Caraveo is a first-year legislator representing House District 31. Caraveo serves as Vice Chair of the House Health & Insurance Committee and on the Public Health Care & Human Services Committee. She talks about health care bills and how her experience as the only medical doctor in the General Assembly has already shaped her work as a legislator – including times when its prompted her to break with her caucus – in this Q&A.

“The reason I decided to run was because there were so many things that I couldn’t fix for kids as a pediatrician,” Caraveo says. “Whether it was how much their housing cost, what was going on at school, whether they could even access medical care… It’s important that health care providers get out of the clinic, get out of the hospital, and try to influence things at the state level, because we have a really unique voice.”



2. A “roadmap” to lower health care costs

Gov. Polis and Lt. Gov. Primavera recently unveiled “The Polis-Primavera Roadmap to Saving Coloradans Money on Health Care,” which will guide operations for the new Office of Saving People Money on Health Care. The plan includes “action steps” separated into two tiers: short- and mid-/long-term goals.

“In the short term, we are taking concrete steps to lower the cost of health insurance and out-of-pocket costs,” the plan reads. “In the longer term, we are making investments in preventive care, expanding access to comprehensive primary and behavioral health services, and helping providers use data more effectively to ensure Coloradans get the care they need when and where they need it.” Read an overview of the roadmap and the policy it includes here.


3. Reinsurance bill update

Last week, the House debated a bill that would establish a reinsurance program in Colorado and authorize the state to request a federal waiver and funding to implement it. Ultimately, the House passed an amendment changing the program’s funding mechanism to a provider fee and providing exemptions for certain hospitals. The bill is headed to the Senate, after passing out of the House in a 47-15 vote.

Following the funding shift, the Colorado Hospital Association and UCHealth changed their positions on the bill from opposed to neutral. “While we are neutral because this bill affects our members across the state differently, we appreciate the diligent work by the sponsors, Rep. McCluskie in particular, Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway and Gov. Polis, for their personal involvement, energy and commitment to working on a compromise,” said Steven Summer, CHA president and CEO.



4. New behavioral health task force

Gov. Polis and Executive Director of CDHS Michelle Barnes announced the launch of “Colorado’s Behavioral Health Task Force” this week. The task force is required to develop a “Behavioral Health Blueprint” that lays out recommendations for improving the state’s behavioral health system.

The same day, Neuroflow released a report ranking Colorado 47th in the nation for mental health outcomes. And, The Gazette introduced a series called “Mental Health: A Crisis in Colorado,” which is set to detail “stories about Colorado’s broken mental health care system” for the next year.


5. FAIR Health findings

National nonprofit FAIR Health recently released its second annual white paper, using data from a repository of over 28 billion claim records to analyze trends in place of service for health care. Data shows the utilization of alternative places of care, such as retail clinics and telehealth, continues to rise in the United States.

Reporter Emily Boerger spoke with FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd about her key takeaways from the white paper. “The health care system is evolving, and it is interesting to see how these new venues are taking shape and really having an impact on where people are seeking care,” Gelburd said. “What’s fascinating is you cannot look at any of these venues through a single lens – it really varies in terms of age, demographics, geography, and the level of utilization of these facilities.”