Health Law and Policy Update
This week's updates
- Exchange bill to be introduced soon
- Health care unaffordable for many in 2010, survey finds
- Benefits of ACA clear as one-year anniversary approaches
- New Colorado clinic to serve low-income and uninsured patients
- Online tool enables tracking of state legislation in response to ACA
- CCHI sponsoring 'Health Care Day of Action'
Headlines of the week
Exchange bill to be introduced soon
A bill creating the governing body to establish a health insurance exchange is expected in the coming weeks. The National Association of Social Insurance and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners have provided guidance and model exchange language for policymakers.
The Colorado bill will likely be sponsored by Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, and Sen. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood. Stephens is an opponent of federal health reform, but she told The Denver Post she favors a health insurance exchange because it might help small businesses. Boyd said the exchange is "something we both see as a standalone, Colorado-specific thing regardless of what happens nationally."
Health care unaffordable for many in 2010, survey finds
Millions of adults nationwide went without health insurance and health care in 2010 because the costs were too high, according to a survey by The Commonwealth Fund released Wednesday. Among the findings:
- 9 million working-age adults who had health insurance went without coverage after losing their jobs in 2010.
- 73 million people reported problems paying their medical bills or were paying off medical debt
- A quarter of adults with chronic conditions who took medications skipped their medications or didn't fill a prescription for their condition because of cost
- Of the estimated 26 million adults who bought, or tried to buy, health insurance on the individual insurance market in the past three years, 16 million found it very difficult or impossible to find a plan they could afford. An estimated 9 million were turned down or charged a higher price because of a health problem, or had a preexisting condition excluded from their coverage.
Many of the problems identified in the survey are addressed in the Affordable Care Act, The Commonwealth Fund said.
"Once the law is fully implemented in 2014, nearly all of the 52 million currently uninsured American adults, including those who became uninsured during the recession, will have access to comprehensive health insurance coverage through expanded Medicaid, private health plans with consumer protections, and tax credits for those with low and moderate incomes to purchase insurance," the organization said in a news release. "In addition, health benefits will have to conform to an essential benefit standard, and no one will be denied coverage or charged more because of a preexisting health condition."
Other recent reports help paint a picture of where Coloradans are accessing health care coverage.
- There was a significant drop from 2008 to 2009 in the number of uninsured children who are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) programs, the Colorado Health Institute estimates.
- Despite increases in poverty, the uninsured rate for children actually declined, the Colorado Children's Campaign says in its 2011 Kids Count in Colorado! report.
- Rates of unemployment and poverty, especially child poverty, increased in Colorado during the past decade, but the rate of uninsurance remained stable in large part due to safety-net programs such as Medicaid and CHP+, the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, a project of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, says in its State of Working Colorado 2010 report.
Benefits of ACA clear as one-year anniversary approaches
Next week marks the one-year anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010. While the law won't be fully implemented until 2014, progress toward implementation has begun and research continues to show it's already having many positive effects.
More than 150,000 seniors and others with Medicare received an annual wellness visit from Jan. 1 to Feb. 23 this year, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a report released this week. The wellness visit is a preventive benefit now covered by Medicare free of charge when obtained by a participating health-care professional, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The enhanced preventive benefits coverage will lower costs, including lowering Medigap premiums for employers, states and people with Medicare, the report said. Many more people with Medicare are expected to receive annual wellness visits and other preventive services thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
New Colorado clinic to serve low-income and uninsured patients
Last week, a clinic opened in Englewood that was made possible by funding from the Affordable Care Act. Sheridan Health Services received a grant from the federal government to open the nurse-run clinic that will serve up to 5,000 people, KCFR-radio reports.
Online tool enables tracking of state legislation in response to ACA
Health advocates and others can track state legislation introduced in response to the Affordable Care Act at a website the National Conference of State Legislatures introduced this week. The tool tracks legislation in all states and territories, and users can search by state, topic, keyword, status and primary sponsor.
To follow the Colorado Center on Law and Policy's efforts at the state Legislature, including the agency's positions on bills, visiting the Legislative Update page on our website.
CCHI sponsoring 'Health Care Day of Action'
An event at the Colorado Capitol on March 23 will offer participants the chance to discuss health reform with policymakers, visit a health resource fair, celebrate the Affordable Care Act's first anniversary and hear from author Wendell Potter.
The 5th annual Health Care Day of Action is sponsored by the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI). The event is set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the state Capitol. It's free to attend, and breakfast and lunch will be provided. Details are on an event flier. To RSVP, visit the CCHI website.
Health Care Director
Health Care Attorney
Released March 18, 2011