Health Law and Policy Update: Five bidders make pitches for Memorial Health System
This week's updates
- Five bidders make pitches for Memorial Health System
- Exchange officials move on executive director, grant application, conflicts policy
- Budget hearing set for Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
- Exchange launches website
- Excessive flexibility in new exchange rules could harm consumers
- Nearly all children will have coverage when health reform fully implemented
Headlines of the week
Five bidders make pitches for Memorial Health System
Colorado Springs residents this week heard pitches from four companies seeking management control over Memorial Health System and one that proposes extensive cooperation should the city government give up control. Four bidders are seeking a long-term lease of Memorial including a consortium led by University of Colorado Hospital, HCA-HealthONE, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System and a group consisting of Memorial's current leadership team.
A fifth bidder, Centura Health, urged a city task force to support creation of a new, independent nonprofit to run the hospital, a plan advanced by Memorial's current leadership. If that arrangement is approved, Centura Health officials said cooperation among the health systems would help control costs and improve care. Centura now manages the other hospital system in Colorado Springs, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.
The task force plans to recommend a bid to the City Council by Dec. 27, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. Any decision by the City Council would need approval by voters.
If a lease is awarded to a religious nonprofit, the City Council should ensure Memorial maintains a full menu of health care services, including reproductive health care. "Colorado Springs residents need continued access to the full range of health care services without restrictions to care based on adherence to religious doctrine," Colorado Center on Law and Policy Special Counsel Ed Kahn wrote in a commentary published on the Health Policy Solutions website.
Exchange officials move on executive director, grant application, conflicts policy
A legislative committee that oversees the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange on Wednesday unanimously approved Patty Fontneau as executive director of the exchange. Fontneau, the former chief operating officer at Holme Roberts & Owen, is expected to be officially confirmed by the exchange's board of directors on Monday.
The exchange board will also take up a request for federal funding, known as a Level One Establishment Grant, and likely adopt a conflict of interest policy at its Monday meeting.
The grant application must be submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services by Dec. 31 or the exchange will not have sufficient funding to continue beyond the early part of next year. Assuming the exchange board approves the grant application, the Legislative Implementation Review Committee will vote on the proposal at its meeting on Thursday. The grant-writing process has been very collaborative, and all indications at this week's legislative committee meeting are that the application is likely to be approved. A copy of the application is available on the exchange website.
Some of the most demanding deadlines in the grant application focus on the development of an information technology system for the exchange. The deadlines will require the exchange staff and new IT consultant Gary Schneider to move quickly during the next year. A full list of IT milestones can be found on page 30 of the grant application.
A proposed conflict of interest policy is posted on the exchange website. The Governance Subcommittee of the board has spent substantial time drafting a conflicts policy, and there has been significant opportunity for public input. The key outstanding issue that will likely be discussed on Monday is whether members of the board who have conflicts of interest ought to be barred from discussing matters on which they are conflicted, or whether it is sufficient for them to be prohibited from voting on those matters. The Colorado Center on Law and Policy has advocated through the drafting process for a standard that prohibits participation in discussion as well as voting for board members who have conflicts.
The next exchange board meeting will be held 8:30 a.m. to noon on Monday at COPIC, 7351 E. Lowry Blvd. in Denver. The Legislative Implementation Review Committee meeting will be 9 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday in HCR 0112 at the State Capitol.
Budget hearing set for Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
The Colorado Legislature's Joint Budget Committee will hear a briefing from the state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing at meeting set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday. Find details in the meeting announcement.
Excessive flexibility in new exchange rules could harm consumers
The Department of Health and Human Services recently made a series of decisions to give states more flexibility in developing their exchanges. Consumer advocates worry that too much flexibility will allow states to ignore important consumer protections when designing exchanges. Giving states a large number of options over responsibility for determining Medicaid eligibility will also make it more difficult to create a seamless application process for consumers. Detailed analysis of the decisions can be found from Community Catalyst.
Advancing the debate
Nearly all children will have coverage when health reform fully implemented
The number of uninsured children nationwide will drop 40 percent following full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2014, according to an analysis published this month in Health Affairs. Overall, 95 percent of all children are expected to have coverage when the health reform law is fully implemented, the analysis found.
The number of uninsured parents is expected to decline 50 percent, resulting in an estimated 90 percent of parents having health insurance coverage.
"The Affordable Care Act already is making a difference in the lives of children by protecting Medicaid and CHIP coverage, and can make an even greater impact in the years ahead if the new law is allowed to reach its full potential," Jocelyn Guyer, co-director of the Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, said in a news release. "On the flip side, if states are lackluster in their implementation of the ACA or the nation's policymakers fail to continue to protect Medicaid and CHIP, all these gains for children could unravel."
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Released Dec. 9, 2011