A new year and a new session of the Colorado state legislature are almost here. Most New Year’s resolutions are cast in hope and optimism, and that would be a fair description when it comes to health policy heading into the 2014 legislature.
An improving state economy means the governor’s budget request includes increases for almost every department even while building up reserves for rainy days. When it comes to health and health care, the governor is proposing to increase investments in mental health and developmentally disabled programs as well as providing funding for recent statutory changes that expanded Medicaid eligibility and dental benefits for Medicaid enrollees, among others.
And yet the politics of this session may play a role in how much is accomplished. Two senators have been recalled by voters and another has resigned, fallout from last year’s gun legislation. The governor is campaigning for re-election in 2014. And the laws and rules of health care reform are unfolding with yet-to-be-fully understood results. On top of all this will be a focus on education funding in the wake of the defeat of the Amendment 66 education finance bill by voters in November.
Through this lens, the Colorado Health Institute has been working to get a sense of the anticipated health discussion during the session. We presented the findings during our annual Legislative Opportunities and Trends webinar on Wednesday, December 11.
Check out our presentation and webinar recording.
We are projecting that the health policy discussion during the 2014 session will fall into these three categories:
- Health Reform Clean-up
- Outcomes of Task Forces
- The Grab Bag
We anticipate that several bills will focus on clarifying and streamlining health care reform implementation, including insurance offerings inside and outside of the state insurance marketplace and the eligibility categories for Medicaid.
There will almost certainly be discussions concerning the final recommendations from task forces or standing groups created during the 2013 session. Some examples include the civil commitment taskforce, the poverty and economic opportunity task force, the dental practice act sunset review, and perhaps childhood immunizations.
Lastly, we may see a variety of bills that address narrower health issues such as free-standing emergency rooms, policies to try to prevent suicides and the extension of a low-income breast and cervical cancer program.
The session officially begins on January 8. Until then, the Colorado Health Institute wishes you hope and optimism for the year ahead. Check back often in 2014 as we monitor, analyze and report on another year of legislative actions related to health and health care.
Happy Holidays from the Colorado Health Institute.