DENVER – Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday that his administration has met 11 of 15 goals he set in 2013 in a pledge to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation.
The score card was released in advance of a vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act as a warning of what Colorado could lose if Senate Republicans vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Speaking to the media, Hickenlooper called his administration’s goals “ambitious.” Some of them include controlling the cost of care Medicaid patients, to the tune of $350 million by 2018, through fewer emergency room visits and early access to care, insuring additional Coloradans and recruiting and retaining 550 new providers since 2013.
But there is still work to be done as opioid deaths tripled between 2000 and 2015 and the obesity rate continues to go up, according to the scorecard.
Hickenlooper reiterated his opposition to the BCRA, which would take away coverage for roughly 22 million Americans by 2030, according to the Colorado Health Institute, and evaluate how it would affect Colorado’s progress.
Hickenlooper said the bill, which was crafted without Democratic input, would cost Colorado an estimated $1.5 billion in Medicaid funding each year.
It would also remove coverage for 628,000 Coloradans since government-funded subsidies would be eliminated, according to the Colorado Health Institute.
He added that it would be “almost impossible” to make up the $1.5 billion a year through taxes to subsidize coverage if the BCRA is passed because the Taxpayer Bill of Rights limits the amount of taxpayer money the state government can keep and it requires voter approval for any new taxes.
Hickenlooper’s criticism of the BCRA echoed what he said two weeks ago when he and Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, held a news conference in Washington, D.C., on behalf of a bipartisan group of governors who are calling for a new bill to be crafted.
“We all agreed that we’ve got to control costs but we’re absolutely against rolling back coverage and taking coverage away from people who so desperately need it,” Hickenlooper said.
Any replacement to the Affordable Care Act would have to provide affordability but also stability to the private market and those dependent on government assistance. That can’t be achieved through the Senate Bill, he said. “I think we’ve got to take the bill they’ve got, put it to the side and start over again in public with both Republicans and Democrats and maybe a few governors who have to implement these bills.”
Hickenlooper acknowledges negotiations might require re-evaluating what is required coverage by insurers and what services are covered by Medicaid, but blanket cuts of the nation’s dependent population is not the answer.
“I’m open to all that stuff. I’m a believer that you cannot have a blank check, but rolling back coverage is not going to lower those costs, it’s going to make them worse,” he said.