Colorado Acting Boldly on Health Reform Implementation – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog


By Gretchen Hammer, Colorado Coalition for the 

Medically Underserved

Thumbnail image for Ashlin Head Shot.jpg

and Ashlin Spinden of Metro Area for People

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. has a new health care
mantra:  “Because we didn’t wait
for Washington, Colorado is now one of the best-positioned states in the nation
to effectively implement health care reform.”  Governor Ritter has made this statement in public
appearances, signing ceremonies, and everywhere else he has been to talk about
health care in the last few months.  
And, he is right.  Colorado
is taking bold actions to propel us forward toward successful implementation.

As a key first step, Governor Ritter has established,
through an Executive Order, a state Director of Health Care Reform Implementation,
naming Lorez Meinhold, his current Senior Health Policy Analyst to the
position.  The Executive Order also
established the Interagency Health Reform Implementing Board which will provide
an administrative infrastructure for the numerous departments and agencies
working on implementation.  In
addition, the state has established a central website for all things related to
health reform.

Another key component of our progress toward reform is
the expansion of Medicaid for parents up to 100% of the Federal Poverty
Level.  This expansion, as well as
the expansion of our CHIP program (Child Health Plan Plus) to 250% of FPL
became effective May 1, 2010 as part of the Colorado Healthcare Affordability
Act passed by the state legislature in 2009.  Financed through a hospital provider fee and using no state
general funds, this law increases payment for hospitals and funds a number of
public coverage expansions.  The
Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing estimates 44,000
parents and 24,000 children and pregnant women are eligible through these

In the state’s third bold act, Colorado State Senate President
Brandon Shaffer publicly agreed to take the HHS Secretary’s Connecting Kids To Coverage
Challenge.  During a meeting to
promote access to health care for all children sponsored by the Boulder Valley
Community Action Network, a member of Metro Organizations for People and the
All Kids Covered Initiative, Senate President Shaffer heard personal testimony
from members of the community about Medicaid and CHP+ being a life-saving
resource for their families. 
Boulder Valley Community Action Network then asked Senate President
Shaffer to accept “The Secretary’s
Challenge: Connecting Kids to Coverage.” 
The “challenge” is a five-year campaign challenging leaders to build on the
successes of the CHIP and Medicaid program by finding the remaining five million
eligible but unenrolled children nationwide.  Without hesitation, Senate President Shaffer accepted the
challenge and shared his vision of a streamlined enrollment process free of
barriers, public service announcements educating the public about these
programs, and implementing the recently passed 12-month continuous eligibility
to ensure that all eligible families are enrolled into Medicaid and CHP+.  As one of the first elected officials
in the country to accept the Secretary’s challenge, Senate President Shaffer has
set a high bar for all of us to continue to act boldly and get all kids in
Colorado covered.

Editor’s Note: The views expressed by Guest Bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Children and Families.

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