As we look at what’s ahead for the new year amid a lot of uncertainty brought on by discussion of repealing, delaying and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is worth a brief reflection on what’s gone before and what that may mean for our future.
Connect for Health Colorado’s path to expanding healthcare coverage dates back to 2006, when a Republican governor and Democratic legislature created the Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform, known as the “208 Commission.” That panel’s report later led to legislation supported by both political parties that created our organization.
Although we are one of a number of state-based health insurance marketplaces, we are the only one created as a public non-profit organization. We are governed by a board of directors appointed by elected officials and accountable to a committee of the state legislature. As such we are uniquely positioned to respond to changes in the health insurance marketplace as we continue our work toward our mission to increase access, affordability and choice.
Those principles have been a policy priority for many years. I was reminded this week by a blog by the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP). That piece referenced a report 17 years ago reviewing efforts to expand access to healthcare in the previous 25 years.
You can find in it discussion of individual and employer mandates, high-risk pools, small-group and individual market reforms and subsidized health insurance. Sound familiar?
It’s clear that healthcare reform policy initiatives have rolled out and rolled back for decades. While many of us are uncomfortable with the uncertainty in the current debate, we can take the long view and persevere in our mission.
Since our beginning, we have successfully worked within rapidly changing state and federal regulations and will continue to rely on that agility as we move forward amid changing landscapes. Each year since we started, a measure has been introduced that would dissolve our organization and we can expect it again. Rather than worry about it, I recommend focusing on the customers we serve and the increased demand we’ve seen this Open Enrollment. The demand for access, choice and affordable health insurance is what will be an important consideration for lawmakers as they develop and review future options.
A report by the federal Office of the Inspector General (OIG) got a lot of media attention this week. Because the review focused on the first years of Connect for Health Colorado’s operation (2013-2014), some of the OIG findings had been called out in earlier reviews and we responded to them. You have seen changes, in deed, you have seen staff added, to improve our processes around spending controls, documenting approvals and preventing conflicts of interest. We don’t agree with all of the report findings and we will exercise our chance to provide further response. You can find more details in this report to be reviewed at Monday’s board meeting.
May you have a happy and healthy 2017,
Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado