Health Law and Policy Update
This week's updates
- Federal budget negotiations unresolved
- Former official raises questions about Colorado Health Foundation transaction
- Colorado Health Benefit Exchange board meets again next week
- Health reform saves states $92 billion over five years, study finds
- Institute of Medicine recommends free health coverage for contraceptives
- Schedule a presentation on health reform
Headline of the week
Federal budget negotiations unresolved
No budget deal had emerged in Washington by Friday afternoon as negotiations continued between the President and Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, and some Democratic leaders expressed concern about possible concessions made by the President.
The Senate on Friday rejected the House "cut, cap and balance bill" on a 51-46 party-line vote. Rep. John Yarmouth, D-Ky., called the plan "slash shred and punish: Slash the budget. Shred the safety net. And punish the American citizens who can least afford it," NPR reported.
Meetings are expected between the President and Congressional leadership this weekend as the Aug. 2 debt-ceiling deadline looms.
Former official raises questions about Colorado Health Foundation transaction
Deliberations continue over what level of scrutiny state officials should apply to the Colorado Health Foundation's plan to sell its share in a joint venture that includes seven Denver-area hospitals. Dick Anderson, a former chairman of the joint venture board, called on the Health Foundation to abandon the deal in a July 15 article posted on the Health Policy Solutions website.
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy has not taken a position on whether the $1.45 billion transaction should proceed, but the agency filed comments with Attorney General John Suthers calling for a public hearing about the deal. CCLP said the transaction should be subject to review under Suthers' common law authority.
Suthers spokesman Mike Saccone told Health Policy Solutions that attorneys are reviewing the proposal to determine whether to step in, but there's no timetable for reaching a decision.
The Denver Post, meanwhile, reported Thursday that Colorado Health Foundation board members are bargaining for assurances that hospitals in the system will continue to accept Medicaid patients.
Colorado Health Benefit Exchange board meets again next week
The next meeting of Colorado's Health Benefit Exchange board is Monday, July 25, in the Mile High room at COPIC, 7351 E. Lowry Blvd, Denver. Find more information, including draft by-laws, on the Colorado Health Institute website.
CCLP will continue to raise questions about board transparency, public participation in the decision-making process and conflicts of interest. The board is required to adhere to the conflict-of-interest statement included in the statute that created the exchange. Senate Bill 11-200 says "A member of the board shall not perform an official act that may have a direct economic benefit on a business or other undertaking in which the member has a direct or substantial financial interest."
The law also makes the board subject to the code of ethics outlined in Article 18 of Title 24 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, and open records and open meetings laws, 24 CRS Articles 6 and 72.
The more the public can access information about, as well as understand and engage in the process of decision making by the exchange board, the greater public confidence will be in the exchange. Public confidence is critical to a successful exchange.
The first meeting of the legislative oversight committee is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 1. Find details on the Colorado Legislative Council website.
Advancing the debate
Health reform saves states $92 billion over five years, study finds
Implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will result in states spending at least $92 billion less than they would without the law, according to a study released July 13 from the Urban Institute. The savings results from reducing the number of uninsured people and increased financial support from the federal government. The study estimates savings from 2014 to 2019.
"Even after 2019, when the federal government's share of Medicaid costs declines to its permanent level, states will still come out ahead, realizing net savings in 2020 alone of $12 to $19 billion," the study abstract says.
Institute of Medicine recommends free health coverage for contraceptives
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report this week recommending certain preventive services be provided to women with no copayment. The recommendations include:
- improved screening for cervical cancer, counseling for sexually transmitted infections, and counseling and screening for HIV;
- a fuller range of contraceptive education, counseling, methods, and services so that women can better avoid unwanted pregnancies and space their pregnancies to promote optimal birth outcomes;
- services for pregnant women including screening for gestational diabetes and lactation counseling and equipment to help women who choose to breastfeed do so successfully;
- at least one well-woman preventive care visit annually for women to receive comprehensive services; and
- screening and counseling for all women and adolescent girls for interpersonal and domestic violence in a culturally sensitive and supportive manner.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked IOM to make recommendations about preventive services important to women's health to inform the administration as it prepares to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's requirement that recommended preventive services be provided by all new health plans with no co-payment. The summary report concludes: "women particularly stand to benefit from additional preventive health services. The inclusion of evidence based screenings, counseling and procedures that address women's greater need for services over the course of a lifetime may have a profound impact for individuals and the nation as a whole."
The Department of Health and Human Services will consider the recommendations for inclusion as a required preventive health service for new health plans under the health reform law.
What you can do
Schedule a presentation on health reform
The experts on our health team are ready to help community associations and other groups sort out the complexities of health reform. A key issue now is creating the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, and structuring it in a way that benefits consumers. To schedule a presentation, contact Health Care Program Director Elisabeth Arenales.
Health Care Director
Health Care Attorney
Released July 22, 2011