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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

2011: Colorado Health Year in Review (Part 1)

I’m a list guy. I love the week before New Year’s Eve because every media outlet seems to develop “Best of” lists, whether it’s books, albums, sports moments, YouTube videos or fashion faux pas. In the spirit of looking back to 2011 and looking ahead to 2012, I’ve conducted an unscientific poll of my CHI colleagues, combined them with my own musings, placed them roughly in chronological order and produced a “Top 11” (in honor of 2011) Colorado Health Year in Review. The first half will be published today, and the second half will be published tomorrow. Happy New Year!

1. New health insurance rules: The year started with an Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision requiring 80 to 85 cents of every health insurance premium dollar be spent on clinical services and other costs, with consumers receiving rebates from health plans failing to meet that threshold.

  • 2012 is the first year Colorado consumers are eligible for the rebates, and it will be interesting to observe how health plans adapt to this and other ACA provisions. All of this is taking place against the backdrop of an anticipated Supreme Court ruling on the ACA’s individual mandate provision.

2. Coverage for kids: The spring of 2011 saw significant developments in children’s health coverage: CHI reported a decline (between 2008 and 2009) in the number of children eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid and the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+); Colorado legislators eliminated the income “stair step” between Medicaid and CHP+ (SB11-008); and in November, initial findings from the Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) indicated that, despite increases in all other age groups, the uninsured rate for children stayed at eight percent between 2009 and 2011 .

  • Even during a period of economic recession, gains were made in covering children at a time when many families were most vulnerable. Will these trends continue in 2012?

3. Obesity: In March, the 2010 Colorado Health Report Card profiled the ongoing increase in the state’s obesity rate. Although Colorado still ranks as the leanest state in the nation, it is catching up with other states and ranks worse on a number of other health indicators.

  • 2012 will be a year of ongoing exploration of promising practices related to healthy eating and active living.

4. The Exchange: The Colorado General Assembly passed SB11-200, effectively establishing the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange (COHBE). Planning for this new health insurance marketplace progressed throughout 2011, as a Board and Executive Director were selected, a legislative review committee established, and a website developed.

  • 2012 will be a formative year for planning, and developing the technical infrastructure.

5. Reforming the health care delivery system: In May, the state agency administering Medicaid began enrolling individuals in the Medicaid Accountable Care Collaborative (ACC), a program aiming to reduce costs and improve quality of care through system integration.

  • The ACC represents a significant commitment to reforming the way health care is delivered in Colorado.  CHI plans to monitor the  progress of the ACCs throughout 2012.

To view part 2, click here.