CEO Blog: Remaining Nimble and Responding to Change

The holidays are a time to disconnect from our daily grind and reflect. For me, the holiday last week helped bring some perspective to the changing environment in which we operate. If anything has been constant in our organization’s history it is the inevitability of change, whether it’s in market dynamics, regulation or the public policy environment. What brings me comfort and confidence is knowing how we’ve responded to that change in the past — we thrived.

  • We created, built and delivered an entirely new service for individuals, families and small business purchasing health insurance in Colorado and we are consistently seen as one of the top-performing and financially stable state-based Marketplaces.
  • We are trending 25% above where enrollments were only one year ago.
  • We developed a wide network of expert stakeholders from hospitals, trusted community-based organizations, Assistance Network partners, and brokers who have tirelessly served Coloradans for four years.
  • More than 93% of Coloradans have health insurance, the highest rates in the state’s history and one of the highest rates in the country.
  • Bankruptcies tied to medical debt have dropped by more than half to 45,000 a year.
  • We delivered $184 million in tax credits to our state in 2015.
  • Our innovative consumer decision-support tools leveraging Colorado claims data continue to receive positive attention.

While there are legitimate concerns about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we should remember that Colorado’s path to building a health insurance Marketplace started years before national healthcare reform. The history dates back to 2006, when the Colorado General Assembly and Gov. Bill Owens established the Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform, known as the “208 Commission.”

In 2008, under Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter Jr., the Commission released its “Final Report to the Colorado General Assembly,” with a set of 26 robust recommendations from a diverse set of bipartisan stakeholders. The recommendations included the concept of a health insurance marketplace, much like the one we operate today. In many ways, our state was ahead of the curve. In the coming months, we’ll work to remind our partners, legislators, and the business community that while there is still room for improvement, we have made a very big dent in these issues identified ten years ago. Our mission of improving access, affordability and choice still ring true, regardless of who is in office.

While legislation has yet to be proposed, we are keeping our eye on several things. On Monday we outlined possible election impacts to the organization with our Board Policy Committee. We will continue to monitor potential changes to the ACA through the lens of our mission statement.

In Recent News

Six-term Republican Georgia congressman and orthopedic surgeon, Tom Price, has been nominated as the next secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). In this role, Price will oversee many departments within HHS like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), but his main focus will be to define the future of the Affordable Care Act and how and other state-based Marketplaces, like ourselves, comply with any new changes to the law. Price will need to be confirmed by the Senate before his appointment is final.

Seema Verma was also recently selected to run CMS. Verma has extensive Medicaid experience having designed Indiana’s Medicaid expansion under then Gov. Mike Pence. In this role, she’ll have oversight of Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In Colorado, this program is called Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), which offers low-cost health insurance for certain children and pregnant women and is administered by Colorado’s Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF).

I appreciate everything you all are doing to help improve the health of Coloradans.

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