Gov. Hickenlooper says ‘state of health’ is in a state of risk

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DENVER — Four years after its release, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s plan to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation faces a number of obstacles should the Senate move forward with proposed cuts to health programs.

The ambitious plan, “The State of Health: Colorado’s Commitment to become the Healthiest State,” has completed a number of goals that were set in 2013.

It includes expanding public and private insurance coverage, closing gaps in access to primary care, and strengthening Colorado’s health workforce.

“More Coloradans have access to quality health care than ever before and this coverage is improving the health of people across our state,” Hickenlooper said.

“The Senate bill’s cuts to funding and coverage threaten our progress in all areas. We urge the Senate to work with a bipartisan group of Governors to focus on problems we all agree need fixing.”

While Colorado has completed, and in some cases gone beyond targets set in the plan, Hickenlooper said there is still more work to do in areas such as opioid abuse and obesity.

The State of Health Scorecard was released Monday to highlight what’s at risk if the Senate health care bill is passed.

The governor made the announcement at the Federico F. Pena Southwest Family Health Center, where many patients have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, which will be repealed and replaced should the Senate health care bill pass.

“Since the ACA was enacted, many of our patients became eligible for insurance for the first time and we think anything that suggests eliminating health care coverage to approximately 22 million Americans is a step in the wrong direction,” Denver Health Medical Center CEO Robin Wittenstein said.

“We are happy to partner with the Governor’s office to improve the health of all Coloradans.”

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne also spoke at Monday’s announcement.

“Thanks to the collaborative work of executive directors Sue Birch, Reggie Bicha and Larry Wolk, the state has met 11 of the 15 goals articulated in the State of Health, improving the health and wellness of Coloradans,” she said.

“The Senate bill takes us backward, cutting $1.5 billion annually from our Medicaid program and threatening health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of hard working Coloradans.  Being the healthiest state in the nation is a lofty goal, and the Senate bill will make Coloradans sicker.”