On the Road

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

Before our next Open Enrollment period begins, I am pleased to have the opportunity to visit communities on what I like to call my very own South by Southwest tour.

This week, I was honored to sit on a panel for the Longevity Project in Glenwood Springs. The Longevity Project is an annual series the Post Independent (the local newspaper) hosts and is focused on mental health. The goal of the series is to not only look at problems, but also examine potential solutions. Read more about the takeways from the powerful event.

While in Glenwood Springs, I visited with staff from the Mountain Family Health Centers. Hearing first-hand what the staff is doing to assist residents is impressive.

On Thursday, I opened the CoverCO event in Grand Junction. The CoverCo tour is brought to you by the organizers of Building Better Health (BBH) to bring the training and network opportunities to six communities around Colorado, focused on local conversations, training and networking. While in Grand Junction, I am also excited to see many of my friends on the Western Slope at QHN’s annual summit and at Club 20’s fall conference steak fry. 

Next week, I’m heading to Telluride, Alamosa and Pueblo to continue face-to-face visits with our partners.

Updated Website

If you’ve been to our website this week, you may have noticed some changes! Our marketing team worked to redesign the main gateway to our business: www.ConnectforHealthCO.com. We redesigned the navigation of the website, streamlined the content to make sure it is digestible and the site is also mobile-friendly now.

Please take time to click around and familiarize yourself with the new site. I think you will be pleased with the ease and readability.

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

See you on the CoverCO Tour!

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

It’s that time again! As we begin gearing up for Open Enrollment, we hope to see many of you at our CoverCO Tour kicking off next week. We partnered with the organizers of Building Better Health (BBH) to bring the training and network opportunities we all appreciated from the BBH event to six communities around Colorado, starting next Thursday in Greeley. The smaller groups around the state will allow attendees to have more focused local conversations and networking. Please join us at the location closest to you (Greeley, Durango, Grand Junction, Keystone, Pueblo or Denver).

If you haven’t already signed up for the full day session, please register here.

We are also inviting a broader audience to participate in the afternoon session, which will focus on community health needs in each region.  If you’d like to attend just the afternoon community health conversation, please register here.

We look forward to discussing how we can work together to improve affordability, access and choice for Coloradans buying health insurance through the Marketplace closer to home!

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

Updates From Our Office

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

August is already almost half way through, kids are going back to school and we are now less than 90 days out from the start of our seventh Open Enrollment Period, which has been scheduled from Nov. 1, 2019 – Jan. 15, 2020.

Connect for Health Colorado Happenings

Since I last reported out to you, I visited with brokers and assisters in Cortez and Durango, had a good discussion with the Southern Mountain Ute Tribe and met with media in Glenwood Springs.

I also had the opportunity to meet with our Legislative Oversight Committee to talk about our preparation for Open Enrollment and to discuss some of our anticipated milestones in the year ahead.

This week, we also announced the addition of two board members and I’ve hired Monica VanBuskirk as our new Chief Policy and Relationships Officer. Monica will oversee our overall policy and marketing strategy. We are thrilled to have her join our Executive Team!

Healthcare News Mixed Locally and Nationally

Colorado’s reinsurance waiver has been approved by CMS. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, our first look at the preliminary individual market rates for 2020 indicated that premiums could decrease by more than 18 percent across the state if this occurred. This is an important step in the right direction of addressing our state’s affordability concerns, and another example of how Colorado continues to lead the nation in finding innovative solutions to our healthcare challenges.

On the other hand, I am concerned about the Public Charge final rule and the negative connotations for people who need to access healthcare. Connect for Health Colorado made our concerns known when the proposed rule was released last year. We are evaluating the final rule, as we believe this will increase the overall uninsured rate and have negative impacts to the health insurance market.  We will be watching closely to see what happens next on the national front, and in the meantime, we are having conversations with state partners on how to move forward.

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

Coloradans may see a 18.2% decrease in premiums in 2020

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

I hope you are staying cool through the heat of summer!

In case you missed it, there is some big news to share this week from the Division of Insurance and the governor’s office. It was an honor to join Gov. Polis to hear firsthand the exciting news of the projected decrease in premiums of 18.2 percent for Coloradans purchasing health insurance through our marketplace. These numbers are dependent on the reinsurance program moving forward, which still requires federal approval. A second set of rates filed indicates the state would see an increase of 0.5 percent if reinsurance is not approved. As a reminder, our organization and our board have voiced our support for the reinsurance bill.

The press release also notes that all seven health insurance companies are returning to the marketplace and that another, Oscar Health, is joining. All of this news is a very promising sign that the work being done in Colorado to help address affordability, access and choice for consumers is progressing.

I’ve also been making my way out west recently. It is rewarding to continue to have conversations with stakeholders in various parts of the state to help me continue to understand the needs around Coloardo. Last week, members of the Western and Rural Colorado Health Care Coalition and I met to discuss Western Slope healthcare reform. This week, I am visiting with assisters and brokers in Dover Creek, Cortez and Durango. I’m also eager to meet today with leaders of the Southern Ute Tribe, to renew our commitment to finding ways that we can work in partnership to address the healthcare needs of their members.

In the News

You may find it interesting that, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health insurers are generally profitable from numbers reported for the first part of the year.

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

Visiting with our Assistance Network

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

Happy Summer Solstice! It’s been a busy few weeks for Connect for Health Colorado staff, who have been criss-crossing the state meeting with close partners and business owners to see how we can continue to meet the needs of Coloradans in order to increase access, affordability and choice for purchasing health insurance. From Steamboat and Glenwood Springs, to Pueblo, Alamosa and Trinidad, we are visiting with our Assistance Network. It’s encouraging to hear both their successes and challenges from the most recent Open Enrollment as well as their goals for the coming year.

I also recently attended the second stakeholder meeting for House Bill 1004 (Proposal for Affordable Health Coverage Option), and there is now a website set up where you can find presentations and recordings from meetings.

In the News

I spoke with Paul Demko from Politico (scroll to Regulations section) about the potential effects of new HRA rule. You can also read more about it at Brookings.

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

Reaching Coloradans This Summer

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

It’s hard to believe that kids are finishing school for the summer. Now that the weather is improving (fingers crossed), it’s a great time to get out and about. While Open Enrollment is closed for this plan year, every day we see more Coloradans with life change events enrolling through us.

From Chaffee County, to Aspen and Glenwood Springs, to Fort Collins and Broomfield, our partners like you are participating in fairs, events and conferences throughout the summer to help ensure Coloradans know about health coverage options. Our staff will also be at the Juneteenth Festival in Denver on June 15th. Come say hello!

While out at these events and in your daily work, thanks for helping us remind our customers to contact us to report life changes (like getting a job or having a baby). We know that things change during the year that can affect health insurance coverage and it is important that customers update their Connect for Health Colorado account if any of information changes, including a new address, or if there are changes to income or to family size.

Thanks, as always, for your hard work helping us accomplish our mission to increase access, affordability and choice for individuals purchasing health insurance in Colorado.

We’re Hiring

We’re hiring a Chief Policy and Relationships Officer who will lead the advancement of our communication, marketing, stakeholder and policy teams. This position will help us shape the future of health care in the state. Please share the job description and direct interested parties to apply through our employment page.

In the News

The Colorado Health Institute released their 2019 Legislation in Review Report, noting where policymakers landed on health policy.   

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

State Option Stakeholder Meetings Announced

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

As much of the work is just beginning on the healthcare bills that were passed this legislative session, I want to make sure you know about opportunities to engage in the discussions with us and other important stakeholders.

The Division of Insurance and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing announced initial stakeholder meetings to discuss a State option for health care coverage as envisioned by House Bill 19-1004. A report is to be filed with the legislature by Nov. 15, 2019.

The first meeting is next Wednesday, May 29, at the HCPF offices. DOI asks that you RSVP here. The second meeting is Thursday, June 13. These two initial meetings will consist of a review of the bill, the charge contained in the bill, and the process for the stakeholder meetings. Those who wish to participate in the stakeholder process will be asked to devote the time and energy necessary for meaningful discussions on the issues specified in the bill.

Enjoy the holiday weekend, and I’ll look forward to seeing some of you the next few weeks during these important meetings.

In the News

I am honored to be selected by Industry Era as one of the top entrepreneurs of 2019.

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

Quick Cost and Plan Finder Tool Goes Mobile

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

As I shared with you back in March, we are continually looking to modernize our technology to make things easier for our customers. This week, we announced that Coloradans shopping for health insurance can now preview health plans and estimate their costs on their mobile devices and tablets using our Quick Cost and Plan Finder tool.

We’ve optimized the tool for mobile browsing because we understand that mobile use of technology can provide a smoother experience for Coloradans who do not have immediate access to traditional desktops and laptops.

This is one step in our continuous technology improvement. Development is also underway to optimize the complete application for mobile devices. I’ll continue to share our progress on technology enhancements through the year.

In the News

The Colorado Health Institute published a study drawing the connection between high insurance premiums and low levels of competition among health insurance carriers and among hospitals, confirming what many believe to be the largest challenges to affordable coverage and affordable care in rural Colorado communities.

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

Moving Forward After Busy Legislative Session

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

Whew! What a ride that legislative session was! Our policymakers passed many bills concerning health policies that we monitored, and now that the session is over, our involvement in advancing this work is ramping up.

Specifically, Connect for Health Colorado was named as a stakeholder in House Bill 1004, in which a proposal will be developed about the design, costs, benefits and implementation of a state option for healthcare coverage. We were also named as a task force member for House Bill 1176. The bill calls for formation of a task force to review various healthcare financing systems and to determine the best option for Colorado.

We are eager to be a part of these discussions. Both initiatives have potential to save Coloradans money on healthcare, as well as help us advance our mission to increase access, affordability and choice for individuals purchasing health insurance in Colorado. I look forward to seeing some of the readers of this newsletter join the conversation.

As a result of our increased involvement in the health policy arena, we created a new leadership position at Connect for Health, the Chief Policy and Relationships Officer. This position will contribute to our strategic direction and fulfillment of our mission. Please spread the word to qualified candidates.

In the News

The Colorado Sun summarizes the outcome of the legislative session and some health bills, while the Colorado Health Institute includes a few of the important health bills accomplished the last week of the session.

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

Health Discussions Across the State

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

From Grand Junction to the Colorado Capitol, I’ve spent time this week with many stakeholders and policymakers talking about what we achieved through our last Open Enrollment period, and our continuing engagement in the conversation for improving affordability and access to coverage for all Coloradans.

I traveled to Grand Junction last weekend to attend the Club 20 Spring Conference. I enjoyed the opportunity to connect with Western Slope communities and listen to stakeholders share opinions on current and ongoing legislation.  

Also, this week, I was honored to present alongside our Board Chair Adela Flores Brennan, and Board Member Steve ErkenBrack, to the Colorado House Health and Insurance Committee. We had the opportunity to educate policymakers about our work as well as deep dive into our Open Enrollment success. The meeting was another chance to make clear that we are happy to bring our insight and experience to the current state healthcare policy discussion.

Speaking of conversations about the future of healthcare in Colorado, I invite you to listen in on Monday afternoon to our Policy Committee meeting for a special presentation. Dan Meuse, Deputy Director of the State Health & Value Strategies program out of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, will lead a conversation regarding what other states are doing related to healthcare reform, and discuss the potential impacts to the Marketplace from Colorado’s reinsurance proposal and a possible public option. We welcome all interested stakeholders. You can find conference call information here.

If you are interested in further discussion about Colorado’s potential reinsurance program and the 1332 waiver application process, the Division of Insurance is holding two public meetings to gather input on the development of a reinsurance program and the corresponding 1332 waiver application process:

April 22, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Larimer County Fairgrounds and Events

April 29, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., in Denver, 1560 Broadway, Conference Room 110D (First Floor) or via a webinar.

In the News

The state Senate this week passed the bill calling for study of creating a public option in Colorado. It heads to another vote in the state House. Modern Healthcare had this report.  

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado