COVID-19 Resources and Update

COVID-19 Resources and Update

For the full list of resources visit 
covid19.colorado.gov and COHouseDems.com

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FRAUD WATCH: A number of bogus products are being circulated as COVID-19 cures. At this time, there is no cure for COVID-19.
Remember, scammers follow headlines.
Visit StopFraudColorado.gov for more information.

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS: We’re fortunate to have several organizations in JeffCo that are working to provide food to those who need it. In order to continue providing this essential service, they need volunteers or donations. Stay-at-home and workplace restrictions do not apply to volunteers at these organizations. Please visit one or more of the following websites to see how you can help feed our community: 
The Action Center * ECCHO * JeffCoEats * Mountain Resource Center * Food Bank of the Rockies
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If you are a medical or public health professional, you can sign up to volunteer here.
To donate or volunteer in another capacity, visit HelpColoradoNow.org.

If you have urgent questions regarding COVID-19, please contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE). 

Phone: CO-HELP: 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911

Email: COHELP@RMPDC.org

COVID-19 symptoms include coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. If you have symptoms and believe that you may be exposed, please contact a health care provider immediately. 

COVID-19 Resources for Colorado

Jefferson County Resources

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Neighbors and Friends,

You’ve probably heard that Governor Polis declared a state of emergency in Colorado to address COVID-19 (coronavirus). The Colorado General Assembly has been doing everything in its power to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado and protect those who have come in contact with coronavirus. We are working closely with the Governor’s office to take swift and necessary actions as we continue to monitor COVID-19 in our communities, state, country, and across the world. 

This is an uncertain time to say the least, and I know that most of us have never experienced anything like it in our lifetimes. That said, we will be able to minimize the harm and protect our most vulnerable populations by taking smart precautions and following the advice of experts. We will all need to make short term sacrifices, but by working together, we’re going to pull through this together.

One of the measures that the General Assembly found necessary was pausing the legislative session for at least two weeks. We are scheduled to reconvene on March 30, 2020. The Capitol building is closed today and tomorrow for cleaning. It will reopen on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, but public tours are not available until further notice. The Lakewood legislators have also decided to cancel our Town Hall that was scheduled for March 28, 2020.

If you have urgent questions regarding COVID-19, please contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE). 

COVID-19 symptoms include coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. If you have symptoms and believe that you may be exposed, please contact a health care provider immediately. 

According to the CDPHE, certain people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, including:

  • People over the age of 60, especially those over 80
  • People who have chronic medical conditions (heart, lung, or kidney disease; diabetes)

Individuals who are at higher risk should avoid crowds and practice social distancing. Regardless of your risk level, please review the recommended prevention strategies below:

  • Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If no tissues are available, use your inner elbow or sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if you’re sick and keep your children home if they are sick.
  • Clean surfaces in your home and personal items such as cell phones.

We are facing this uncertainty together and it is crucial that we all do our part to protect each other. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with your concerns and questions: call (303) 866-2951 or email chris.kennedy.house@gmail.com

Thank you for staying safe,

Chris

P.S. For any of you who were elected delegates to your county assembly/convention, the General Assembly passed emergency legislation to give the parties the ability to allow remote participation or mail voting. Please look for information from your county party soon on how to participate.

State Lawmakers Unveil ‘Colorado Affordable Health Care Option’

State Lawmakers Unveil ‘Colorado Affordable Health Care Option’

By Shaun Boyd (March 5, 2020)

DENVER (CBS4) – After years of talking about a public health insurance option, state lawmakers have introduced a bill to create the Colorado Affordable Health Care Option. It is a public-private insurance plan.

Under the bill, the state would force insurance companies to sell the plan in every county and every hospital would accept it or risk losing their license. The state would also set reimbursement rates based largely on a percentage of what Medicare pays.

“The Colorado Health Care Option will hold corporate health care profits accountable,” said Representative Dylan Roberts, lead sponsor of the bill.

Initially, the plan would be open to about 8 percent of Coloradans who buy their own insurance. Eventually, it would be expanded to the small group market. Co-sponsor Representative Chris Kennedy said the goal is to force down premiums for everyone.

“Now is not the time for tinkering around the edges and working on small policies to make small differences,” said Rep. Kennedy.

Heidi Baskfield with Children’s Hospital said government price controls could force hospitals to shift costs to employer based insurance, driving up premiums for everyone.

“Only coming after hospitals for what is a much larger health care issue is tinkering around the edges,” said Baskfield.

Amanda Massey with the Colorado Alliance of Health Insurers warned too of unintended consequences. She says insurers will lose money administering the plan for the state and some might leave Colorado.

“I think insurers will have to make very difficult decisions,” said Massey.

Roberts isn’t convinced. The state option, he said, only impacts about 300,000 Coloradans who buy their own insurance now. He said those who switch to the state option will see a 9-20 percent reduction in premiums.

“We cannot tell the people of Colorado that the status quo is okay. The Colorado Option is the first guarantee that they will have an affordable choice on the individual market,” said Roberts.

No one has to switch to the state plan but if they don’t, they could end up paying even more than they do now. Most of those who buy their own insurance get federal tax subsidies and those would drop. The bill sponsors are seeking a federal waiver to address that, as well as working on republican support for the bill.

Read the full story on Denver.CBSLocal.com

Caucus is one week away!

Caucus is one week away!

With everything going on at the capitol, I have to admit I’ve barely given any thought to the precinct caucuses coming up on Saturday, March 7th at 2:00pm. Fortunately, we have  a wonderful team of volunteers working incredibly hard to get everything ready to go!

Many voters have expressed confusion about why caucus is still happening since we’ve moved to a presidential primary this year. Before I tell you, I want to make sure you’ve all already returned your primary ballots. If not, drop them off by 7:00pm on Tuesday, March 3rd at any of Jeffco’s several locations (or if you’re not in Jeffco, google your county clerk’s website). If you’re struggling to make up your mind, you can read about my endorsement of Elizabeth Warren here. I continue to believe she’s the most thoughtful, bold, sincere, and electable candidate running.

Back to caucus. Here’s the deal. Colorado still gives candidates two paths to get their names on the June primary ballot. Candidates may either collect petition signatures or go through the caucus-assembly process. If the latter, delegates elected at caucus will attend county, congressional district, and state assemblies to nominate those candidates (as well as to elect delegates to the national convention based on the results of the presidential primary). That’s how I’m running this year, and that’s how many of the candidates for US Senate are running, too.

Caucuses will elect delegates this year based on their preference in the US Senate race, and I’ll be caucusing for Andrew Romanoff. While I like and respect John Hickenlooper, I believe we need more courageous leadership in the US Senate in the years ahead. I’m hopeful that we will defeat Trump this November, but it’s unlikely we’ll have 60 votes in the Senate to pass any significant legislation. That’s why we need a US Senator who’s not afraid to say that the filibuster is outdated and must be abolished. Andrew was a master legislator during his eight years in the Colorado House of Representatives, and he’s a strong supporter of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. This is no time for small solutions. We need courageous leadership to get our country back on track. And yes, I’m confident Andrew will be able to defeat Cory Gardner this November.

This is an exciting time to be involved in politics, and if you’re not yet involved, now’s the time. So many of the events of the last few years have been deeply troubling, but we’ve seen the way local action can bring about big changes. When voters in 2018 elected Democratic majorities in the State House and Senate, we passed significant legislation in so many policy areas and we’re already seeing the way those reforms have improved the lives of hard-working Coloradans. We can do the same thing in 2020 by electing a Democratic President, and Democratic US Senator for Colorado, and holding on to our Democratic House Majority. Change is in the air, and now is the time for us to do the work to persuade and turn out the voters of Colorado to support a vision for the future that gives real opportunities to everyone who works hard and does their fair share, ensures basic human rights, and protects our environment for the next generation.

I’ll look forward to seeing you at caucus!

Chris

P.S.  I want to specifically recognize the hard work of Theresa Tomich, Chair of the HD23 Democrats, who is running the show at our caucus location (Carmody Middle School) this year. She and her team have been working so hard for weeks to make sure everything runs smoothly next weekend. These events wouldn’t be possible without amazing volunteers like Theresa.L



Live in HD23?
If you live in my district, here’s where our caucus will be meeting:

When: Sat. March 7th, 2:00-4:00pm
Where: Carmody Middle School (2050 S Kipling St, Lakewood)

FInd other Jeffco caucus locations here or other Colorado locations here.


Links
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My Priorities
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General Caucus Q&A

Gov. Polis unveils his updated roadmap to saving people money on health care

Gov. Polis unveils his updated roadmap to saving people money on health care

By Meghan Lopez (February 28, 2020)

DENVER — Surrounded by health care advocates and fellow Democrats, Governor Jared Polis unveiled his updated Roadmap to Saving Coloradans Money on Health Care.

Last time around, the road map included six things: increase hospital price transparency, establish a reinsurance pool, negotiate to drive down the cost of health insurance, lower hospital prices, reduce out-of-pocket costs and lower the cost of prescription drugs.

During Thursday’s unveiling, the Governor touted the accomplishments of last session in all six of these areas while admitting there is still a lot of work to be done.

“When it comes to health care, there is no silver bullet; there is a lot of hard work that your legislators and public officials and others need to do,” Gov. Polis said.

This time around, the newly unveiled roadmap includes five areas he would like to expand upon: adopting a public option, expanding insurance purchasing alliances, increasing drug price transparency, supporting primary and preventative care availability and implementing behavioral health reforms.

“It isn’t just one simple answer that solves it, it is a combination of many, many strategies coordinated between the Governor’s office and the legislature to try to make these changes and we’re going to be working on this for many years,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy, who co-sponsored some of last year’s health care bills.

Reinsurance was one of the biggest health care pieces to come out of the Colorado capitol last legislative session. It is an effort to bring down health insurance premiums for everyone by helping insurance companies cover the claims of the most expensive clients, including those with chronic or complex conditions.

However, in the months after the program was implemented, while many people saw their premiums go down, some Coloradans experienced the opposite.

“Their premiums did go down, but in some cases, their federal tax credit went down even more, so we’re working on finding federal funding sources to backfill them to make sure no one was harmed by that,” Rep. Kennedy said.

Part of the reason he believes the reinsurance program didn’t lower costs for everyone is because the health care system as a whole is complicated and something he considers to be patchwork.

Despite this, Rep. Kennedy believes the reinsurance program was an important first step to providing immediate relief to consumers.

This year, the governor is pushing for legislators to pass a bill to adopt the public option, where the state would offer a health insurance plan.

Opponents of the idea, like Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Douglas County, believe this idea is taking health insurance in the wrong direction that could end up costing people more money.

“They all might sound like a good idea, but in aggregate, that’s going to increase prices throughout the state,” Rep. Neville said.

He believes the public option would move the state one step closer to a single-payer system that could put some doctors out of business.

Instead, what he would like to see done is alleviating some of the compliance costs in health care and adding more price transparency, so people understand exactly what they are paying for. In fact, he predicts a shortage of health care providers if the public option passes.

Democratic lawmakers are also considering bills like covering the cost of fertility treatment. But with all the things Democrats are hoping to add, there are questions over how to cut costs while adding coverage options.

“It’s very important to get the big things done to reduce costs. You can do a few small things with the savings, like expand coverage and access with some of the savings as long as the bulk of them are passed along to consumers,” Gov. Polis said. “But, if you don’t generate the savings, there’s no savings to go to things like (fertility treatment coverage), so as we look at reducing savings to Colorado and I think a small part of that can go back into improving quality of healthcare, but obviously most of that needs to help the bottom line of consumers.”

Rep. Neville, on the other hand, disagrees with the Governor’s assessment and says this question of how to add more services while cutting overall costs highlights the problem.

“I don’t think there is a balance and that’s a fact that we have to face. The more we add, the higher the cost coverage is going to go and that’s a big reason why the healthcare costs of soared through Obamacare,” he said.

For Rep. Kennedy, though, the cost is not the only thing that matters. He argues that lower costs won’t help if they don’t cover enough. Ultimately, he believes Medicaid for All is the long-term solution to the state and country’s many health care challenges.

As President Trump and Democratic candidates discuss their ideas for health care, in the end, Gov. Polis says the state of Colorado can’t afford to wait for the federal government, so it will be up to lawmakers to decide how the state should combat the rising cost of health care.

Read the full story on TheDenverChannel.com

Major Grant Awarded for Rural Substance Use Treatment Center in Salida

Major Grant Awarded for Rural Substance Use Treatment Center in Salida

Special to Daily Record (February 14, 2020)

“A 13,000 square mile donut hole, smack dab across the middle of our state,” is how Brian Turner, CEO of Solvista Health, describes the gap in appropriate behavioral health services for a massive swath of Colorado.

“Our state ranks in the top 10 nationally for alarming rates of drug and alcohol problems, and yet we are also among the highest for unmet treatment needs,” says Turner.  “We have never had the appropriate higher levels of care available in rural Colorado and people are forced to travel all the way to Denver, Colorado Springs or Grand Junction for help. It’s time that changes.”

Turner announced that Solvista Health was recently awarded a $700,000 grant to help build a comprehensive Regional Assessment Center to treat mental health and substance use needs in the region. The grant is made possible through Colorado House Bill 19-1287, which passed last legislative session at the Colorado State Capitol and targeted treatment in rural and frontier counties. The bill was crafted by the Opioid and Substance Use Disorder Interim Committee of the legislature and had broad bipartisan support, including passing the State Senate by unanimous vote.

“Fighting for rural Colorado is a constant battle here at the Capitol,” said Representative Jim Wilson. “It is great to win one once in a while, particularly one of this magnitude, for my community.”

The award was made by AspenPointe MSO and the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health, who are championing an infusion of resources to tackle the opioid epidemic and substance abuse statewide. The grant will specifically support the development of a withdrawal management and recovery center for substance abuse.

“While Solvista Health and other providers have been working hard to expand a variety of treatment options in the region, this will be the first of its kind providing a higher level of care,” said Turner. “Research shows an undeniable connection between substance use, mental health, and overall health. So, we have teamed up with our local partners and community leaders to design an option that will provide an integrated, comprehensive approach.”

Solvista Health is hoping to raise $6.5 million to realize the full vision of a Regional Assessment Center that will serve Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, Lake, Park, and surrounding counties. The facility will be located on the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center campus in Salida and is an example of the growing collaboration between the two nonprofit organizations. The cooperation doesn’t end there. Planning has been underway largely through the Region 13 Substance Abuse Regional Coalition (SARC) and will continue with increased engagement and feedback from community members.

“We are thrilled to be a partner in this effort alongside so many others,” said Dave Henson, Executive Director for Chaffee County Department of Human Services. “Over 50 public and private organizations signed on in support of this grant proposal across the region. We recognize the power of collaboration and share the goal of making our communities a healthy, thriving place for everyone to live, work and play.”

Construction is expected to begin this summer with a goal of opening by early 2021. Tax-deductible contributions can be made by contacting gwenf@solvistahealth.org.

Read the full story on CanonCityDailyRecord.com

Iowa Schmiowa!

Iowa Schmiowa!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of the news about the Democratic presidential primary. So much is at stake for the future of our country, and I’m feeling very invested in putting forward a candidate who can defeat Donald Trump and get our government back into the business of solving problems and making life better for the hard-working familes across our country.

Every Democrat on the debate stage is more qualified and has more integrity than the current occupant of the White House, and come November, I’ll be proud to support any one of them. But I really, REALLY, hope it’s Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Here’s why.

  1. Beating Trump is the #1 priority, and I believe Elizabeth Warren is the most electable candidate. She is an incredibly powerful communicator, and she speaks directly to the people who are feeling most left behind–including those in the midwestern swing states.
  2. Her policy ideas are bold, thoughtful, and thorough. Seriously. Just read any one of her plans. She certainly took some heat in the press over elements of her health care plan, but I read it twice and I can tell you she knows her stuff. She recognizes we cannot solve the big problems without disrupting the status quo, and she also establishes realistic steps and timelines.
  3. She has a real theory of change that starts with tackling corruption in Washington. Debate moderators have asked numerous times how candidates would accomplish their policy goals if elected, and I find Warren’s theory most compelling. That’s because I’ve experienced the power of special interests first hand. There are days at the state capitol where I can’t walk down the hall without bumping into a dozen insurance lobbyists, a dozen hospital lobbyists, and a dozen pharma lobbyists. And most of the time, their efforts are directed towards blocking progressive change.
  4. Elizabeth Warren is a fighter for regular people who are just trying to get good jobs, support their families, and afford health care, housing, child care, and higher education. After four years of Trump, that’s what we need in the White House.

I could go on, but instead I’ll just ask you to reply to this email and tell me about the candidate you support and why. And if you share my admiration for Elizabeth Warren, would you sign up to volunteer for her campaign?

The Iowa caucus is Monday, February 3rd. But before we see the results of the New Hampshire primary at 7:00pm EST on Tuesday, February 11th, you will likely already have your Colorado presidential primary ballot in hand!

That’s right, we have a presidential primary in Colorado this year! Ballots are mailed out starting February 10th and are due back by 7:00pm on Tuesday, March 3rd.

FUN FACT: Because of a bill we passed last year, 17 year olds who will be 18 by the November 3rd General Election will be eligible to vote in primaries and caucuses this year! Register to vote here!

Keep in mind we’ll still have precinct caucuses on Saturday, March 7th. Delegates elected at caucus will participate in the nomination of all state and local candidates (including me!), and those who go on to the state convention will elect delegates to the national convention based on the results of the presidential primary.

With that, I hope you all have a wonderful and warm winter weekend in Colorado! And don’t forget to reply to tell me about who you’re excited to support to be our next President of the United States of America!

Thanks,
Chris

County redistricting bill seeks to avoid appearance of partisan gerrymandering

County redistricting bill seeks to avoid appearance of partisan gerrymandering

By Marianne Goodland (January 27, 2020)

In 2018, voters said “enough” to the potential for partisan gerrymandering at the state and congressional level.

They approved, by better than 2:1 margins, Amendments Y and Z, which set up independent commissions, to be comprised of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters, who would handle the creation of new congressional (Y) and legislative (Z) district maps after the 2020 Census.

So who draws districts for county commissioners? As it turns out, it’s the commissioners themselves.

Assistant House Majority Leader Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, and Rep. Colin Larson, R-Littleton, think copying the system set up for Y and Z is a good idea, and that forms the basis for House Bill 1073, which will be heard in the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on Thursday.

The bill is drawing strong opposition from some of Colorado’s counties due to concerns it is an unfunded mandate.

And Kennedy admits it is.

The bill as it currently stands would apply only to the state’s largest counties that have five commissioners: Arapahoe, El Paso and Weld. An additional seven — those with populations that exceed 70,000 — could eventually be included, including Boulder, Jefferson and Mesa, if those counties choose to go to five commissioners (they all have three now, but some are considering going to five).

The only large counties that would be exempt: Broomfield and Denver, which are combined city/county but are governed by city councils, not county commissions.

Under the bill, a 7-member independent commission, assisted by nonpartisan staff, would take charge of drawing district maps. The commission would be made up of two Democrats, two Republicans and three unaffiliated voters, and maps would be approved by a simple majority. Kennedy said creating the 12-member commissions set up in Y and Z would be too unwieldy.

The commissions would use criteria in this order:

  • equal population and the Voting Rights Act;
  • communities of interest, political subdivisions and compactness;
  • competitiveness; and
  • no protection for incumbents.

Under the bill, the maps commission would meet in public meetings and the maps would be subject to judicial review.

Another provision of the bill would change current state law to allow for larger precincts, up to 4,000 people each, to address another problem: constant redrawing of precinct maps every time the population surges.

In Jefferson County, that’s meant redrawing precinct maps every two years, which is allowed under the law, for whenever a precinct exceeds 2,000 people.

“It’s the Wild West,” Kennedy recently told Colorado Politics, when asked why he wants to change the system.

“When it comes to the way counties draw their maps, the only rule is equal population and the Voting Rights Act,” he explained. That means the county commissioners are drawing their own districts. In most of the state, it’s not a big deal, he said, since the three commissioners run county-wide but have to live in the districts they represent. Kennedy said there’s no evidence that the system for drawing districts has been abused, so his bill is intended to be proactive.

In the counties with five commissioners, either home rule or one larger than 70,000 people, there are three options for how commissioners are selected. It’s either five who are elected by the voters in the districts in which they live (Arapahoe and El Paso), five where commissioners must live in their districts but are elected county-wide (Adams), or three who live in the districts they represent and two more who are at-large (Weld).

Jefferson County has three commissioners but talk in the county around going to five has been around for years, Kennedy said. But going to five has also raised concerns about gerrymandering.

Kennedy advocates for five commissioners, all required to live and be elected from the district they represent. Given the size of Jefferson County, “you can’t possibly get around” to the whole county, he said. In order to help Jeffco go to five, Kennedy said he wanted to offer them the protection against gerrymandering.

Kennedy believes larger counties will have the staffing, and even some have GIS software that can handle the map-drawing process.

“I believe because we have unanimous support” for state and congressional redistricting (from the General Assembly in 2018), it makes sense to model county redistricting in the same way, he said.

Kennedy and Larson met with stakeholders last week, including representatives from Arapahoe, Boulder, El Paso and Jefferson counties as well as from the County Clerks Association.

“This restores faith in the system” and matches what voters intended with Y and Z, Larson told the group.

Arapahoe County spokesman Luc Hatlestad told Colorado Politics that the county’s commissioners have already voted to oppose the bill, citing chiefly its unfunded mandate as well as concerns about the amount of time such a process would require. They estimated it would cost about $21,000 to pay the retired county judges who would choose the mapping commission members.

In fact, the bill’s fiscal note comes in with a much larger figure: $75,000 to $135,000 per county, but that also includes paying for staff time, computer equipment and software, legal expenses and travel and per diem costs.

Read the full story on ColoradoPolitics.com.

State says hospitals raking in record profits with no end in sight to cost-shifting

State says hospitals raking in record profits with no end in sight to cost-shifting

By Marianne Goodland (January 23, 2020)

The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing released a report Thursday that accused several Front Range “mega” hospital systems of price-gouging Colorado consumers to fatten their own wallets. 

The announcement came one day before a Joint Budget Committee hearing on costs for a public option plan and the state’s 2019 reinsurance program, which are expected to exceed initial estimates by hundreds of millions of dollars.

And at least one lawmaker in Thursday’s news conference used the time to strike back at the hospitals and others who are running a six-figure ad campaign decrying aspects of the public option plan released last November.

The HCPF report, an analysis of Colorado hospital cost-shifting, claimed hospitals, primarily large for-profit and non-profit hospitals in the Front Range, have failed to reduce health care costs, despite state efforts going back more than a decade to reduce the burden of uncompensated care. The report is a final one that follows a draft report from January 2019

Cost-shifting has long been blamed as one reason for the rising cost of health care. It takes place when a hospital shifts uncompensated costs from those who can’t pay for their health care to those with private insurance, which Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said Thursday drives up health care premiums for everyone. 

But since the hospital provider fee went into place in 2009, the costs for uninsured health care have dropped by half, according to the report. Hospitals have reduced their losses by $385 million, the report said. 

According to a 2009 letter from the Colorado Hospital Association, “By increasing hospital reimbursement rates and covering the uninsured, we will reduce the rate of rising healthcare costs,” the letter said. 

The exact opposite has happened, according to Primavera and HCPF Executive Director Kim Bimestefer. Hospital per-patient profits are soaring, from $500 per patient in 2009 to three times that amount in 2018. “Despite significant reductions in uncompensated care and significant increases in Medicaid and Medicare” provider payments, “hospitals are persistently increasing the price of care,” according to a fact sheet distributed Thursday.

House Assistant Majority Leader Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, at one point held up a mailer that’s part of a six-figure ad campaign by the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future and Colorado’s Health Care Future on the public option proposal. “It makes my blood boil when I received this in my mailbox, saying contact your state legislator to protect the status quo…. This came out of your premium dollars!” he thundered. 

That campaign is backed by the Colorado Hospital Association and health insurers and targets a public option proposal that they claim will shift $1.5 billion in health care costs over a five-year period to Coloradans who have their own health insurance.

Colorado’s Health Care Future also claims the public option will jeopardize access to health care in rural hospitals and critical care facilities and could result in 13 rural hospitals closing.

Read the full story at ColoradoPolitics.com

Find more coverage at DenverPost.com and Colorado Sun.com 


Another year, another chance to do some good

Another year, another chance to do some good

Happy New Year!

I’m always excited about the new opportunities a new year brings. Last year, we made remarkable progress on so many policies to help the people of Colorado. This year, we’re set to continue that progress with a twist – it’s an election year, so the temperature’s going to be even hotter than last year.

That said, I have a great deal of confidence in my colleagues. We showed that we’re willing to do the work, researching tough topics and engaging with stakeholders in diverse communities and across the political spectrum to create the best policies. As a result, 95% of the bills signed into law by Governor Polis last year passed with bipartisan support.

It should be no surprise, then, that the first bill we introduced this session has bipartisan sponsorship in both the House and the Senate. There has been a growing consensus about the response to the developing teen vaping epidemic, and while we passed good legislation to empower local governments to regulate tobacco retailers last year, we need to do more. I’ve been part of a working group all summer/fall that successfully reached bipartisan agreement on how to increase the purchase age to 21 across Colorado with appropriate enforcement of retailers and prohibitions on direct-to-consumer online sales. Check out House Bill 20-1001.

The interim also kept me quite busy with two interim committees: the Opioid & Other Substance Use Disorders (SUD) committee and the Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU) committee. I’ll be continuing that work this session by carrying several bills through the legislative process. For the SUD committee, I’m carrying five bills that continue the effort started in 2017 to curb Colorado’s opioid epidemic and build a functional treatment/recovery infrastructure. I’m particularly proud of a provision in the prevention bill that will require insurance companies to cover alternatives to opioids with limited copays.

On the IOU committee, I was excited to once again immerse myself into renewable energy policy – a topic on which my predecessor, Rep. Max Tyler, led the state for his seven years. I will be working on a few bills in the energy policy space this year.

Much of my work this session will continue to focus on health care costs. I’m so proud of what we accomplished last session, but costs are still out of control and we need to do more. I am very involved in conversations about continuing the reinsurance program and establishing a public option – both of which are coming under extreme pressure from hospitals and insurance companies, who have invested some of their multi-billion-dollar profits into TV and mail ad campaigns over the last few months. While these stakeholders may have important feedback on how we change policy, we can’t let their desire to protect the status quo trump the needs of the people who are struggling to afford the high cost of health care (not to mention the high costs of housing, higher education, child care, and more).

My first bill, however, is about protecting our democracy.Colorado led the nation in 2018 by passing two constitutional amendments to reform the redistricting process for congressional and state legislative districts. The districts will now be drawn by nonpartisan staff according to unbiased criteria, approved by independent commissions, and subject to clear rules about public meetings and judicial review. However, for county commissioner districts, there are no such rules. In most cases, this isn’t a huge problem because most Colorado counties elect their commissioners countywide. Still, in home-rule counties and/or counties larger than 70,000 people that have increased from three to five commissioners of which at least some are elected by individual districts, there is a risk of partisan gerrymandering. House Bill 20-1073 will reform this system by following the model of Amendments Y & Z.

It feels like there’s plenty more to say, but I think I’ve written enough words for one newsletter. More soon. Until then, please feel free to reach out about anything you need this session! And if you’d like to schedule a time to visit the Capitol, please contact my legislative aide, Jakki Davison, at cohd23aide@gmail.com

Thanks,
Chris

P.S.  Thanks to all of you who donated food and/or socks at our November town hall! We helped the Action Center break a world record when the collected 37,556 pairs of socks on one day!

Still optimistic after all these years

Still optimistic after all these years

It’s hard to believe this whirlwind of a year is nearly over. At the end of the landmark 2019 legislative session, I had to take a step back before I could fully appreciate everything we accomplished.

We passed legislation to lower the cost of health care; invest in education, transportation, and affordable housing; accelerate our transition to clean energy; make our schools safer; expand mental health access; reform our criminal justice system; fight the opioid epidemic; expand the rights of every Coloradan, including voting rights, reproductive rights, and rights to self-expression; and protect the clean air, clean water, and beautiful open spaces that make Colorado such a special place to live.

Years like this are why people run for office. When bills become laws and begin to impact people’s lives, we remember that our democratic republic often succeeds at expanding opportunities for people to live better, happier, and healthier lives – as long as we elect the right people.

Even when Americans are subjected to horrifying news nearly every day from the Trump administration, our progress here in Colorado keeps me feeling optimistic about the future.

Next session, we’ll be continuing our work on all of these issues, and believe me, it’s a lot of work. There will be obstacles and setbacks, lies and distortions, and a whole lot of money spent on lobbying and advertising by the defenders of the status quo. As soon as soon as the session ends in early May, my colleagues and I will be hitting the campaign trail again to talk to voters about the work we’ve done and ask for their support so we can keep moving Colorado forward.

On that note, it should be no surprise that I’m running for reelection in 2020! It’s been such an honor to represent the people of House District 23 and to help lead the state as the Assistant Majority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives. Please join me for a Holiday Happy Hour & Fundraiser on December 17th to celebrate the progress we made for the people of Colorado this year and to prepare for another great year!

Together, we really can change the world for the better. Thank you for doing your part. I’ll certainly keep doing mine.