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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

Data Nerds and the Derby

Team Colorado Health Institute made an important finding at our Monday morning huddle: not one of us picked the Kentucky Derby winner, Nyquist, even though he was the favorite.

But do not fear. Our odds of understanding the most important health and health policy issues in Colorado are excellent.

Today marks the kick-off of a new series CHAS: Mapping Data A to Z. CHI will produce 26 maps that analyze data from the 2015 Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS). Natalie Triedman, policy analyst and mapper extraordinaire, came up with the idea and she promises a map for each letter. Join us as we wait to see what she has for X, Y and Z.

Up first, obviously, is “A” and a look at Access to mental health care across Colorado. The main takeaway? Mental health isn’t one community’s issues, it’s a Colorado issue. Find out why in our new analysis.

What does a time turner have to do with the legislative session? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. As Legislative Director and Policy Analyst Allie Morgan points out her most recent blog, it would be an extremely useful tool as legislators work overtime to get through the undecided bills.

Freestanding emergency departments, marijuana tax cash for substance use services, and the hospital provider fee are just a few of the bills highlighted in the previous week’s blog, the second to last as the session winds down toward its scheduled Wednesday adjournment. Watch for Allie’s final blog this week and then the annual Legislation in Review publication that analyzes the session from a health policy standpoint.

Let’s pause for a quick geography quiz. Which state has the Dungeness crab as its official state crustacean? Hint. It’s Oregon, a state kind of like Colorado, only with an ocean. Both states are in the midst of ambitious accountable care reforms in their Medicaid programs. Researchers who are studying the two programs spoke to the Safety Net Advisory Committee in March about their findings. You can read all about it in the latest edition of Food for Thought, which will be published this week.

And that cues up the next Safety Net Advisory Committee (SNAC) Lab, led by Director of Research on Coverage and Access Jeff Bontrager.

The topic? Access to care among Medicaid clients. Specifically, a hot-off-the-press analysis that the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing has produced to inform Medicaid provider rate decisions — which may ultimately influence access to care for certain services.

Our guests from HCPF will also discuss a forthcoming state plan required by the feds to address access to care challenges. There will be lots of opportunity for thoughtful discussion, so please join us next Thursday, May 19 at noon. (Just be sure to RSVP to

How does housing impact your health? Read the next installment of Better by Design, a series of reports on the connection between the built environment and healthy living. So far we’ve explored how walkable neighborhoods, access to food, and financing health oriented developments can improve—or inhibit—your health. Catch up on these reports here and look for the next report later this week.

May is mental health month and we have planned a series of blogs focusing on this important issue. This week Policy Analyst Tamara Keeney will recap her learnings from the 29th Annual Research and Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent and Young Behavioral Health. But first, read last week’s segment.

We’ll see you next week!