AS THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT--OR OBAMACARE--ENTERS ITS THIRD YEAR OF AVAILABILITY IN COLORADO, THE EFFECTS ON THOSE TOUCHED BY THE LEGISLATION ARE MYRIAD, COMPLEX AND STILL SHIFTING. BUT, GENERALLY WHAT DO PEOPLE AND INSTITUTIONS IN COLORADO HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE PROGRAM, PARTICULARLY AS WE ENTER AN ELECTION YEAR?
To be clear, Connect for Health Colorado officials maintain that the program is a success in the state. Connect for Health Colorado is the public, nonprofit entity established by the Colorado General Assembly in 2011 to create the ACA's insurance marketplace in the state. In its most recent enrollment period. Connect for Health Colorado said 211,579 Coloradans enrolled for 2016 health coverage, either in private health insurance, through Medicaid or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+). That number is up from the 141,639 people who signed up in the year-ago period. "I am pleased that so many Coloradans took the important step of getting health coverage through us," Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson says of the figures.
Here is what others in Colorado are saying about Obamacare, three years in:
Jandel Allen-Davis, VP of government, external relations and research for the Colorado region of Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation's largest not-for-profit health plans:
"This Act touched every aspect of our business," Allen-Davis says, explaining that she or someone on her team has worked on it daily since Congress passed the initial legislation in 2010 and the Colorado exchange launched in 2013. "It really changed the nature of how we execute on our work, on how we run our business. It's been a busy five or six years."
And what was the initial effect of Obamacare on Kaiser Permanente in Colorado?
"The individual market is the one that really exploded, because that's where all the people who couldn't get coverage were," Allen-Davis says. "It's what I would call a volatile line of business." But that demand wasn't a total surprise to Kaiser Permanente: "We anticipated there would be some volatile shifts and swings as people figured out what to purchase," she notes.
Now, however, the market for health care in Colorado has begun to show signs of settling down. "We think we're starting to see some decreases in high-cost utilization," she says.
"In many, many ways, [the Affordable Care Act] has been very good. There's gratitude that new members and patients express at being able to get services that they hadn't gotten access to,"...