Thoughts from the CEO, March 2023

Hello CHPA community,

The Colorado statewide healthcare leaders hosted a Health Cabinet Affordability Summit on March 15, 2023. The featured speakers included Lieutenant Governor, Diana Primavera, Executive Director of Healthcare Policy and Financing (HCPF), Kim Bimestefer, and the Commissioner of the Division of Insurance, Michael Conway. If you are interested in learning more, go to Affordable Health Care for Coloradans | Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing webpage.

Coloradans are extremely fortunate to have such capable and committed leaders at the helm of our state agencies. They shoulder a sense of responsibility for all residents to make healthcare affordable, which requires significant fortitude in the midst of the market headwinds. The event could have also been titled the Accessibility Summit, as affordability so often leads to accessibility and too many people are not accessing care because they cannot afford it.

We know how interdependent social factors like education, environment, and housing are to a person’s overall wellbeing. We refer to these things as the Social Determinants or Drivers of Health. This intersection also plays out in the affordability challenge. HCPF consumes about one-third of the state’s budget and every dollar that goes to services is not available for schools, parks, and infrastructure. Therefore, finding ways to decrease costs is a leading indicator that will result in many downstream impacts for healthier communities.

Community Health Centers (CHCs) are leading the way when it comes to cost control. On average, CHCs lower costs by 24%. While health centers serve around one-third of all Medicaid patients, expenditures to CHCs only account for 1.9% of Medicaid’s medical spending and CHCs save HCPF an estimated $788 million annually.

Although CHPA primarily focuses on the Medicare and Commercial populations, I am bringing this up for multiple reasons. To begin, our members should be extremely proud of how efficiently they are able to provide care and all the ways that enables the state to spend money in other areas that broadly impact health. Secondly, as we refine our future strategy, we want to align our support of CHCs to include all patients, including people who have Medicaid or are uninsured. Lastly, cost effectiveness is already paying off through programs like the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), and we are working toward other shared savings arrangements with other payers as well. That means CHCs get a direct return on their cost effectiveness.

Cost is not the only variable that matters when it comes to Value Based Care, but it does yield greater accessibility and ultimately improved quality. Congratulations on setting the standard for cost control and succeeding against such immense healthcare market forces.

Thank you for your dedication and partnership,

Ben Wiederholt
Interim CEO