Colorado working together

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 01:28 PM
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CMS joins Colorado coalition on federal health care reform, advocates for Colorado physicians

by Kate Alfano, CMS Communications Coordinator

The Colorado Medical Society has been collaborating with a diverse working group of organizations formed by the Denver Metro Chamber, Health Advocates Alliance, and Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, to form a set of “common principles” on federal health care reform. The coalition is a partnership of more than 100 organizations representing counties, businesses, patients, people with disabilities, consumers, doctors, hospitals, insurers and others that demonstrates, once again, the “Colorado culture” of teamwork for the greater good. It was formed in response to a letter from U.S. House of Representatives leadership soliciting input from state governors and insurance commissioners on how to “strengthen and improve health care for all Americans.”

The Trump administration and House Republican leaders have committed to bring substantial change to the national health policy framework. The Colorado coalition will “work to ensure, first, that these changes do not harm our state and its citizens and, second, that we improve on advances we have made where that is possible,” the coalition letter stated. It was sent to the Colorado congressional delegation on Jan. 4.

As submitted, the principles were structured around two areas: The process Congress will follow to arrive at a new health care framework and the principles to which they will adhere with any new policy they enact.

The coalition put forth three guiding principles for the procedural stage:

  1. Repeal the Affordable Care Act and related federal health policies only with a clearly identified and carefully considered replacement plan.
  2. Address policy with the understanding of the interconnected nature of health care.
  3. Find a bipartisan path to a new federal health care framework.

For the policy that is ultimately adopted:

  1. Expand choice, affordability and competition in private markets while maintaining consumer protections.
  2. Promote stability in the market to help control costs.
  3. Acknowledge the benefits of promoting access to care at the right time and in the right setting.
  4. Don’t shift cost to states without sufficient and sustained federal funding, or create an uneven playing field in the health care market.
  5. Protect the most vulnerable, including children, seniors and people with disabilities.
  6. Empower rural communities, recognizing that “one size fits all” does not apply to health care.
  7. Encourage health care transformation at the state and community levels, funding and promoting innovative programs like those that Colorado has used to achieve significant improvements in the health care system.

“Participating in a Colorado-based federal coalition expands our reach and influence, and we will continue to participate in future meetings,” said CMS President Katie Lozano, MD, FACR. She reported that the group was “very amenable to phrasing and construction preferred by CMS to ensure compatibility with our long-standing positions regarding health system reforms.” The coalition will reconvene in 2017 to discuss possible next steps to a collaborative stakeholder approach.

Independent of the coalition, CMS provided guiding principles for health care reform and other policies to Gov. Hickenlooper and the insurance commissioner to help inform their response to the U.S. House leadership. “We are also working with our congressional delegation and closely coordinating with the American Medical Association to provide input on policy and respond to any needs or inquiries the delegation or individual members require,” Lozano said.

The CMS board of directors convened a work session at the Jan. 20 meeting to assess the congressional dynamics, and members should expect to receive a series of flash polls to gauge reactions and concerns as the federal health care reform debate evolves. Stay tuned for more as the debate evolves.

Posted in: Colorado Medicine | Health System Reform | Initiatives | Advocacy | AMA


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