Signs that health policy will be front-and-center during the 2013 legislative session emerged today with word that Mark Ferrandino, speaker-designate of the Democratic majority House of Representatives, has created a second health-related committee.
Ferrandino added a committee named “Public Health Care and Human Services,” naming Rep. Dianne Primavera (D-Broomfield) as its first chair. Rep. Dave Young (D-Greeley) was tapped as vice chair.
The new committee will focus on implementing Medicaid-related provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as child welfare reform, Ferrandino said. It will also have legislative oversight of the two biggest state health care agencies – the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) and the Department of Human Services (DHS). Together, those two departments account for about a third of the state’s General Fund.
The new committee joins the long-standing Health, Insurance and Environment Committee. Farrandino chose Rep. Beth McCann (D-Denver) to serve as chair and Rep. Sue Schafer (D-Wheat Ridge) to be vice chair.
Democrats won 37 House seats in the November election, with Republicans picking up the remaining 28. The Senate will also be led by Democrats, with 19 Democrats and 16 Republicans elected to office in the November election. State Senate President-Elect John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) has not released his committee leadership selections.
While the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act settled many uncertainties, it left a large decision up to states – whether to expand Medicaid coverage. A new Kaiser Family Foundation study finds that Colorado’s share of the expansion cost could reach $858 million over 10 years, even with the federal government picking up 100 percent of the cost in the first few years.
The legislature faces other important decisions about implementing federal health reform. With Medicaid enrollments hitting all-time highs and health care costs continuing to increase, the legislature must deal with tough questions about how to make Medicaid and the other publicly-funded health programs more efficient. The coming session promises to be an interesting one for health care policy.