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2012 Legislation in Review: The Four “E”s

Health care policy during the 2012 legislature may have lacked the pyrotechnical drama of civil unions and special sessions. But much good and thoughtful work was done, particularly in rethinking how to make existing programs work better for clients and taxpayers.

A breather in the budget battles after a better-than-expected revenue forecast in March meant less time needed to be spent on cutting health budgets. This freed up lawmakers to think creatively and collaboratively about a number of tough problems, especially the increasing costs and enrollment levels in the federal-state Medicaid program.

The Colorado Health Institute provides an analysis of the legislature’s health care policy successes and near-misses in a publication posted on our website today.

In 2012 Legislation in Review, CHI focuses on the four “Es” of this year’s work:

  • Easing of the budget.
  • Experimentation with existing programs and services.
  • Improving governmental Efficiency.
  • The looming Elections.

The beefier revenues meant a $44,000 funding reduction for school-based health centers was avoided; co-payments didn’t increase for Medicaid clients; Medicaid providers didn’t see a drop in reimbursement rates, which had become a nearly annual occurrence; and public health agencies maintained their funding levels.

Under the experimentation category, lawmakers took on the task of rethinking how health care is paid for and delivered in Colorado. Much of the experimentation builds on the state’s forward-looking Accountable Care Collaborative (ACC). In particular, HB 12-1281 launches a pilot program to test different forms of payment in the ACC, moving toward a model in which risk is shared by the providers and the payers.

Efficiency saw lots of action, with new laws that support Governor Hickenlooper’s goal of making Colorado government “more efficient, more effective and more elegant.” For example, a new law establishes a process to collect data on the state’s health care providers through the state licensure process. The information is designed to assist in fact-driven planning for health care workforce needs in the state.

And as for elections, with all 65 members of the House of Representatives up for election, along with 20 of the 35 Senate seats, not to mention Colorado’s role as a swing state in the presidential election and the lingering bad feelings from the reapportionment process, politics were ever-present during the session.

Some promising health policy bills died after being caught in the backlog created by the civil unions fight at the end of the session. Some of those can be expected to return next session, along with some proposals to streamline and reorganize state oversight of health care.

Read about all of this, and more, by clicking here.