Colorado Capitol Report

Supporters of Single-Payer Health System Turn in Signatures for “ColoradoCare” Ballot Measure

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State Policy News

Supporters of Single-Payer Health System Turn in Signatures for “ColoradoCare” Ballot Measure

Last Friday, 156,701 signatures were submitted by ColoradoCare Yes to the Colorado Secretary of State to place the “ColoradoCare” initiative on the November 2016 ballot.

If approved by the voters, ColoradoCare would implement a universal, single-payer state health-care system.  ColoradoCare supporters far surpassed the minimum requirement of 98,492 signatures needed to move forward in the ballot initiative process.

The measure was labeled “Initiative 20” by the Legislative Council when it was submitted earlier this year.

Proponents of ColoradoCare claim that a state-run, single-payer health system will yield huge efficiencies, costs savings, and universal access to care.  The Legislative Council estimates that ColoradoCare would cost approximately $25 billion in its initial year of implementation.

ColoradoCare would require employers to pay a new tax–about seven percent of a worker’s wages–into the health co-op on top of deductions for Social Security and Medicare.  Employees would face a payroll tax of about 3 percent.  Both employers and workers then would not have to pay premiums to a private health insurer.

Critics of the single-payer system worry about the cost of the program, the new taxes needed to support it, and the lack of accountability and market-driven competition and controls that result from ceding virtually all control of the state’s health care system to State Government.

On March 23rd, Legislative Council and the Office of Legislative Legal Services issued a letter detailing an analysis of the submitted initiative.  On April 15th, the Ballot Title Setting Board set the title and submission clause for the initiative and approved the final text.

By November 23rd, the Secretary of State’s Office must issue a “statement of sufficiency/insufficiency” concerning the number of valid signatures that have been submitted that are required to pace ColoradoCare on the ballot.

Senator Irene Aguilar (D-Denver)

Senator Irene Aguilar (D-Denver)

Senator Irene Aguilar (D-Denver), a physician, sponsored a universal health-care bill during the 2013 legislative session, but it died.  CACI opposed the bill.

The chief advocate for ColoradoCare, Senator Aguilar told Ed Sealover, statehouse reporter for The Denver Business Journal, “We tried to pass it in the Legislature.  But with the money in politics these days, there’s no chance.  Fortunately, in Colorado, if the Legislature refuses to do what’s needed, the people can vote it into law through a ballot initiative.”

ColoradoCare is opposed by Advancing Colorado, a Libertarian, free-market advocacy organization, whose executive director, Jonathan Lockwood, told Sealover that “ColoradoCare is a charade and their campaign has been deceptive on every level, preying on Millennials and the underserved communities, promising them relief that will deliver pain,”

For news media coverage  about ColoradoCare, read:

ColoradoCare backers collect 156,000 signatures for single-payer plan,” by Joey Bunch, The Denver Business Journal, October 23rd.

Universal-health-care advocates submit signatures for 2016 Colorado ballot measure,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, October 23rd.

CACI members with questions or concerns regarding ColoradoCare should contact CACI State Governmental Affairs Representative Dan O’Connell at 303.866.9622.

Colorado Division of Insurance Releases 2016 Health Insurance Plan Information

Please click here to view the Colorado Division of Insurance News Release regarding the 2016 plan year.  Twenty carriers have been approved, offering a total of 1,073 different plan options across Colorado.  Premiums will increase over 2015 premiums on average 7.04 percent, with individual policies rising an average of 9.84 percent, and 3.17 percent for small group plans (plans that are purchased by small employers, with 2 – 99 employees).  However, premiums vary by carrier, age, geographic area and the tier, or type, of plan:  bronze, silver, gold or platinum.

Also, please click here for DOI’s news release regarding its recent action against the Colorado Health Insurance Cooperative, more commonly known as the Colorado HealthOP, to prevent it from selling insurance for 2016 on the state’s health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado.

CACI members with questions or concerns regarding this update should contact CACI State Governmental Affairs Representative Dan O’Connell at 303.866.9622.

Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care Works to Finalize Reports to the Legislature

Last Friday, the Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care met to continue discussions regarding potential recommendations it may include in its first annual report, due to the legislature on or before November 15, 2015.
To view recent meeting documents, including the list of potential recommendations, please see the Commission’s website, here.

The Commission also discussed the Milliman Report, titled, “The Cost of Rehabilitation Services.”  On May 6, 2015, the Colorado General Assembly passed HB 15-1083, requiring the Commission on Affordable Health Care to conduct a study concerning the costs, including patient cost-sharing, for physical rehabilitation services.  This report is due to the General Assembly by November 1, 2015.

The report and included data were just released to the public mid-last week, and the Commission’s discussion regarding the report was very brief.  The draft report did not yet include any analysis of data to address the key considerations required by HB-15-1083.  Per the legislation, the study must analyze costs to the health-care system, including the distribution of cost between payers and individual patients, as well as whether patient cost-sharing creates barriers to the effective use of physical rehabilitation services.  Apparently, analysis and recommendations may be included in the final draft delivered to the legislature, before the Commission has the opportunity to publicly discuss or ask questions regarding the final content of the draft.

CACI will continue to monitor the work of the Cost Commission and discussions regarding the Milliman Cost of Rehabilitation Services report.

CACI members with questions or concerns regarding the Cost Commission and the Milliman report should contact CACI State Governmental Affairs Representative Dan O’Connell at 303.866.9622.

CACI Board Member Tony DeNovellis Passes

Tony DeNovellis

Tony DeNovellis

Tony DeNovellis, former president and chief executive officer of AAA Colorado and a member of the CACI Board of Directors, recently passed away.  Tony was elected to the CACI Board in October 2009 and actively participated in the Board’s deliberations.  He was also a member of the CACI Labor and Employment Council and often attended the Council’s meetings during the legislative session.

CACI will miss Tony’s dedication and commitment to our organization.  We extend our condolences to his family, colleagues at AAA Colorado and friends.  We will remember his spirit, good humor and energy.

Following is the obituary that ran in the October 21st issue of The Boulder Daily Camera:

Tony DeNovellis, 67, Louisville, Colorado passed away at home surrounded by his family on October 18, 2015. He was born in Lafayette, Colorado to John and Denise DeNovellis on May 13, 1948. He was a lifetime resident of Lafayette and Louisville. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in 1970. He had a successful career serving 24 years with Public Service Company and 19 years with AAA Colorado, where he retired as President and CEO. Throughout his career, he dedicated his time to serve on several boards: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, United Way, Visit Denver and the Junior Achievement program.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years Judy; daughter Jessica Spanarella and son-in-law Joe; son Aaron DeNovellis and daughter-in-law Kelli; grandchildren Ashlyn and AJ Spanarella; Kai and Kennedy DeNovellis; brother Jerry DeNovellis sister-in-law Susan; mother-in-law Mena Tesone; brother-in-law Gary Tesone and sister-in-law Susan; sister-in-law Janice Tesone; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his grandparents, parents, sister, father-in-law, two brother-in-laws and nephew. His personal pursuits included golfing, watching sports, and spending time with his family. He will always be remembered for his selfless love and dedication to his family and the honesty and integrity he continually demonstrated in his professional life.

Tony will be deeply missed by his family and many friends. He is gone too soon. Please join his family and many friends for his memorial service on October 22, 2015 at 10:00 AM at Rocky Mountain Christian Church, 9447 Niwot Rd, Niwot, CO 80503. Those wishing to honor Tony are encouraged to make a donation to Warren Village, 1323 Gilpin Street, Denver, CO 80218.

Federal Policy News

Ex-Im Bank Reauthorization Passes House In Rare Bipartisan Maneuvering

This week, members of the House of Representatives used a rare political maneuver to ensure that Ex-Im Bank reauthorization received a floor vote, passing the long-stalled economic driver, 313-118.  Because the House Financial Services Chairman, Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), and many of the House Republican leadership team are opposed to reauthorization of the Bank, bipartisan efforts had been blocked this past summer.

However, during the turmoil of Speaker elections, supporters of Ex-Im rallied behind a “discharge petition,” gathering the necessary 218 signatures to ensure a floor vote.  Knowing that then-Speaker Boehner was relatively supportive and then-likely Speaker Paul Ryan is opposed to Ex-Im, supporters moved the bill prior to leadership elections.  This is of particular note because discharge petitions are often considered a slight to one’s own party leadership and discharge petitions no longer hide the names of signatories because Members must go to the “well” on the House floor to sign the petition in person.

  • 218 signatures are needed and this petition reached needed signatures in just five hours;
  • Has only been used successfully three times in modern politics; and
  • If it were to pass Senate, it would be only third bill in history to become law after passage as a discharge petition

Majority Leader McConnell has said the Senate will not address Ex-Im as a stand-alone bill, saying the House must instead take up the long-term transportation bill passed by the Senate this fall where an Ex-Im Bank reauthorization is an attached rider.  The Ex-Im bank expired in June.

House, Senate Pass Landmark Two-Year Budget Agreement

On Wednesday, the House agreed to a monumental, bipartisan two-year budget agreement to address both Congress’ fast-approaching debt ceiling limit, as well as necessary spending levels.  As Speaker Boehner wrapped up his 25-year career in Congress, he helped negotiate a deal that the House of Representatives, the White House and the Senate can live with.

The agreement passed the House by a vote of 266-167, with 79 Republicans joining 187 Democrats, provides some relief for both domestic and military spending cut by sequestration in 2011.

Over the next two years, it would increase spending limits by $80 billion: $50 billion next year and $30 billion the following year.  It also ensured out-of-pocket Medicare Part B increases weren’t enacted, while also tightening Social Security Disability benefits.

The Senate had until Nov. 3rd to pass a deal before the Government hits its debt ceiling borrowing limit.

But, at 2:23 a.m. this morning, the Senate agreed to the budget deal by a vote of 64-35.

Now that a deal has been agreed to and sent to the President for signature, Congress will have until Dec. 11th to appropriate the necessary funds through a “continuing resolution” to prevent a government shutdown.

Senate Passes Landmark, But Controversial, Cybersecurity Bill

On Monday, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), S. 754 by a margin of 74-21, even as privacy advocates say it doesn’t do enough to protect consumers or businesses.  CISA is meant to create an ‘incremental step toward preventing massive data breaches’ like those seen by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) where thousands of current and previous Federal employee files were hacked by affiliates of the Chinese government.

CISA provides incentives and protections for private businesses to share credible online threat information with other businesses, as well as with the Federal Government by using the Department of Homeland Security as a clearinghouse.  CISA “creates a completely voluntary information-sharing framework.”

Prior to the August recess, CISA bill sponsors Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) lined up 22 amendments to address concerns raised, in part by privacy groups.  However, not a single “privacy amendment” passed and the bill proceeded with just a manager’s package of agreed-upon changes.

The Senate and House must now assign congressmen to a compromise committee in order to address differences between the House-passed H.R.1560, The Protecting Cyber Networks Act, and Senate-passed CISA.

    • The bill specifically provides that companies can defensively and proactively monitor their own information systems and those of agreed-upon partners (i.e. federal agencies)
    • “Any entity that monitors, provides, or receives information or operating defensive measures under the Act would be required to implement security measures to protect from unauthorized access.”
    • Any entity that shares a cyber threat indicator under the Act would need to first review the indicator for, and remove, any personal or personally identifiable information. An entity may use a technical method designed to remove personal data to satisfy this requirement.”

For more information, read:

House Passes Bill Preserving Access to Retirement Planning, Defeat DOL Fiduciary Rule

On Tuesday, the House voted along party lines to pass H.R. 1090, the Retail Investor Protection Act.  H.R. 1090, would require the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to finalize definitions for “broker dealers” and “financial advisors” before proceeding with controversial rules that would limit the ability of financial planners to advise clients on such decisions as retirement plans.

Although H.R. 1090 passed along party lines, the DOL’s proposed fiduciary rules have received bipartisan opposition and attention because the proposed rule would limit the ability of consumers, specifically lower- and middle-class consumers, from easily seeking the advice of a financial advisor at a time when fewer and fewer Americans understand what they need to plan for retirement.

According to Congressman Tipton (R-CO):

“The Administration’s proposed Department of Labor (DoL) fiduciary rule would severely limit millions of hardworking middle and low income Americans’ access to affordable retirement planning advice and education. The unworkable rule has received staunch bipartisan opposition and should be scrapped altogether,” said Tipton. “Furthermore, the DoL has no business in the first place of proposing such a rule, as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the agency designated by Congress to regulate those who provide investment advice. The Retail Investor Protection Act stops the rule, and requires the DoL to yield to the SEC on the issue.”

On August 10th, CACI sent a letter to Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions,  and are continuing to closely follow developments and progress of the DOL’s fiduciary rule, as well as whether H.R. 1090 will be added to an already-packed Senate calendar.

Representatives Buck, Coffman, Lamborn and Tipton supported H.R. 1090, while Representatives DeGette, Perlmutter and Polis all voted no.

Members from both parties of the Colorado Congressional Delegation, however, are taking steps to ensure that the DOL creates a fair process to address stakeholder concerns and ensure that consumers are not hurt by unintended consequences from a turf war between the SEC and DOL.

Congressional Milestone:

  • On Thursday, the House GOP nominated Rep. Paul Ryan for the Speaker gavel (200-43) and the House conference elected Paul D. Ryan to Speaker of the House, terminating Rep. John Boehner’s 25-year tenure in Congress and five-year term with the Speaker’s gavel.
  • Speaker Ryan elected on message of unity (The Hill)
  • Boehner bids farewell (USA Today)