5 Things Colorado: Public option, Vincent Atchity, 1332 waiver

I hope you’re spending very little time indoors, thinking about health policy right now! Enjoy summer with the family – wherever it takes you. (Enjoy Greece, Chris Howes!) For those of you still toiling behind a computer, thanks for reading our stuff! There is a lot to keep up with in Colorado health care in June, 2019.


With help from Sara Gentzler
and Emily Viles

1. Public option stakeholder process begins

The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) and Division of Insurance recently hosted the first stakeholder meeting on a state public option proposal. The meeting covered what’s in the bill, a look at what other states are doing, lessons learned from failed CO-OPs, and next steps. Washington State’s model was mentioned often. You can read some of our reporting on that model here and here.

The clock is ticking. The new law requires HCPF and the Division of Insurance to develop and submit a proposal that describes, in detail, a state option for health insurance — and identifies the most effective implementation of such an option — to the Legislature within the next five months. The next meeting is Thursday, when the agencies promised more information on what’s currently underway and how funding will be spent.

2. County-level impacts of insulin cap bill

Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 1216 into law on May 29, making Colorado the first state in the nation to pass legislation capping the price consumers pay for insulin. Data from the CDC indicates those cost-saving impacts will be felt in some counties more than others.

The data showed a number of interesting trends, including the relationship between rural counties and increased rates of diabetes, as well as socio-economic status. Reporter Emily Viles spoke with Rep. Dylan Roberts, the bill’s sponsor, about the legislation and the data. Rep. Roberts was interested and a little surprised in the county-level detail. You can read more about those findings here.


3. A glimpse into the the future of Medicaid

The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing released their 2019 Quality Strategy Report this month. The report explains how the Department will improve their Medicaid system by detailing what CMS requires of them and highlighting what they are doing to meet those requirements.

The department’s key goals include: decreasing health care costs, enhancing medical delivery systems, improving patient safety, and improving health outcomes. The state is also collaborating with other agencies to address opioid use, hospital costs, reporting strategies, and telehealth services.

4. Q&A with Vincent Atchity

The Equitas Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes mental health awareness and champions laws, policies, and practices that prioritize improved population health outcomes, sensible use of resources, and the decriminalization of mental illness. Reporter Emily Viles spoke with its Executive Director, Vincent Atchity, to discuss a new program in the works in Colorado, mental health models in other states, and some key bills from the legislative session.

“I think it has become commonplace in public health to describe one’s health as a product of a number of different factors, genetics, behavioral choices, and environment, and access to care. These are credited with forming your overall health,” Atchity explains.


5. Update: 1332 state innovation waiver

Following commentary from a recent bill signing, Gov. Jared Polis has submitted a final version of the 1332 state innovation waiver for consideration. The waiver requests that the ACA be waived for two years to allow the state to implement a reinsurance program. The waiver follows the passage, and signing of HB19-1168, which received bi-partisan sponsorship in both chambers.

The waiver has not yet been approved, but a final decision is expected within 180 days. If approved, the state can begin moving forward with the program’s creation that could lower insurance premiums by as much as 20% in the next fiscal year. You can read the waiver application in its entirety, here.