Newsletter (September 2020)

Newsletter (March 2021)


In This Issue

This Week Marks One Year of Working Remotely for MHHA Staff


The COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible and unique mark upon each of us. This has been a difficult year, and there is more to understand and act on as we move forward. Despite these challenges, spring is around the corner and the delivery of vaccines gives us optimism. 

As our work spaces changed, so did the substance of our work, our ways of life, and the world around us. While working from home has presented its fair share of challenges, it has also had some bright spots. We met colleagues’ kids and pets during Zoom meetings and enjoyed the sunshine during conference calls. 

As our work continues here at MHHA, we are committed to building a future that is healthier and more equitable for everyone.

MHHA Named a Recipient of COPIC Medical Foundation Grant


A recent grant from COPIC Medical Foundation will support the continuation of our Orange Flag Project, a pilot which will use historic, predictive, and real-time data to inform emergency department personnel of a patient’s high utilization of emergency services to aid in care coordination. 

During the 2021 funding cycle, COPIC Medical Foundation granted a total of $775,000 to five organizations with initiatives designed to reduce fragmentation across care settings. A top concern in patient safety, breakdowns in coordinated care can lead to readmissions, missed diagnoses, delayed treatment, duplicative testing, and reduction in quality of care leading to general patient and provider dissatisfaction. The COPIC Medical Foundation is a nonprofit organization affiliated with COPIC, a leading medical liability insurance provider.

What Happens When the Public Health Emergency Ends?


As Chiquita Brooks-LaSure awaits confirmation as the head of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Biden Administration, MHHA is planning for and working on the future of Medicaid at the state and local level. Since Secretary Azar’s declaration of a federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) in response to the novel coronavirus on January 31st, 2020, the Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing (HCPF) has submitted a host of waivers allowing for increased flexibilities and temporary regulations that are in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 PHE. 

The MHHA team is documenting how these CMS-approved Colorado-specific state actions to address COVID-19 have affected Colorado’s Medicaid and CHP+ members and providers. These efforts will inform advocacy with HCPF regarding which temporary rules and flexibilities Colorado should seek to adapt or make permanent, a process we are planning alongside providers, stakeholders, and organizational partners.

There are a few changes of particular interest to us. For one, the Maintenance of Eligibility requirement mandates continuous enrollment for Medicaid members, suspending Medicaid’s regular eligibility renewal and redetermination process. While this protects Colorado’s Medicaid population with continuous coverage until the end of the PHE, we are concentrating on what efforts will be necessary to ensure that the massive re-determination effort slated to occur at the end of the PHE is successful. Another notable change is the expansion of funding for wraparound services and supports, which aligns with efforts to support interventions related to social and economic barriers to health.

The healthcare sector has also adapted to the pandemic with increased flexibilities around telehealth use, which was initially ushered in by temporary waivers approved by CMS. Telehealth is now reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits and includes both audio-only and chat correspondence, which made telehealth a viable option for Coloradans without broadband access or the technology required for video visits. These telehealth-related temporary flexibilities were made permanent via the passage of SB20-212 during the last legislative session. In the current legislative session, HCPF is proposing a telehealth bill to adjust the parity requirement included in this statute, giving them more flexibility to address the differences in how telehealth is delivered via various providers and platforms. 

We would appreciate hearing any additional insights you may have about how Medicaid and CHP+ have changed in response to the pandemic for either providers or individuals insured through these programs. Please email to connect with us.

MHHA Signs On to Denver Flavor Ban

Denver is considering a ban on all flavored tobacco products in an effort to counteract the frightening rise in youth tobacco use. According to Flavors Hook Kids Denver, the coalition leading the push for a flavor ban in the city, one in four high school students has used an e-cigarette in the past month. Additional data points to flavored products as a primary cause of the rise in young people using tobacco in the past few years: 97% of youth e-cigarette users reported trying a flavored product within the past 30 days.   

Recent polling data also suggests that a majority of Denver voters are in favor of banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products. A survey of nearly 700 Denverites conducted by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association and Kaiser Permanente found that 65% were in favor of a flavor ban ordinance. The Mile High Health Alliance is one of many organizations that have signed on in support of the flavor ban to create a healthier environment for our youth. Check out this fact sheet for more information about the campaign and the list of organizational partners. We will continue to provide updates on this initiative as it is introduced and progresses through the legislative process.

What Are Colorado Legislators and the Biden-Harris Administration Doing to Advance Equity?


Five Draft Bills in the Colorado Legislature with Equity Impacts

  1. Continuation of Necessary Document Program: Extends funding for a program that was slated to end in 2021. The Necessary Document Program helps low income Coloradans acquire documentation of their identity, immigration, or citizenship status, which is essential for accessing healthcare, public benefits, and other important services.
  2. “Fix 2006”: A bill passed in 2006 barred people without legal documentation (or who lived with people unable to legally verify their presence) from obtaining professional and commercial licenses. This initiative aims to repeal the 2006 bill, which will allow undocumented individuals to hold occupational and commercial licenses in Colorado and and provide them with access to basic state and local public support services (fact sheet). 
  3. Reproductive Health Care Program: This program would allow people who are undocumented to access contraceptives and counseling services. There is evidence from other states that increasing access to contraceptives results in considerable cost savings, in addition to providing an important healthcare benefit.  
  4. Residential Tenancy Procedures: Extends protections for tenants, including several actions related to eviction and court proceedings. For one, the bill requires that landlords give 14 days’ notice prior to starting eviction proceedings rather than 10. The bill also includes regulation regarding landlords’ ability to increase rent. 
  5. Multilingual Ballot Access For Voters: This bill ensures that voters have access to the ballot in their primary language. It creates a multilingual ballot hotline to provide access to qualified translators or interpreters in all of the languages in which the most recent Census was offered. 




Biden-Harris: Top 5 Equity-Related Executive Actions

  1. Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government: Revokes President Trump’s EO that limited federal agencies’ ability to offer EDI training and directs all agencies to review the equity implications of their practices and policies and deliver a report within 200 days. 
  2. Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery: Among other things, this EO established the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, headed by Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. The Task Force is charged with providing recommendations to the President for mitigating the health inequities caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and for preventing such inequities in the future.
  3. Restoring Faith in our Legal Immigration Systems & Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans: Directs an immediate review of public charge regulations implemented during the Trump Administration. 
  4. Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers: Includes a requirement that the Secretary of Education collect data disaggregated by race, disability, English-language-learner status, and free or reduced lunch status to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators. 
  5. Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation: Affirms anti-discrimination laws and the recent Supreme Court decision upholding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.


Reading & Listening