CEO Update: The Flying Tomato
The Flying Tomato – and I don’t mean a lunchroom food fight. I’m talking about Shaun White, gold medalist. By now you probably know that I love the Olympics and stay up way too late to watch all the action I can. I thought this year was so unique in that the US Team had the most athletes coming from our great state of Colorado. Of course if you think about it, it makes sense. We have a lot of mountains, a lot of ski resorts and a lot of outdoor recreation. Did you ever stop to think though that these mountains are all located in rural communities? I did and I bet those of you that work in those communities did as well.
The majority of Colorado’s 47 rural counties are a recreation playground for those in and out of our state. That means that when people break bones, are in car accidents, get tangled or such with wildlife, or have shortness of breath due to our high altitude, they need access to care. As you know, CRHC’s mission is to enhance healthcare services in the state by providing information, education, linkages, tools, and energy toward addressing rural health issues and our vision is to improve healthcare services available in rural communities to ensure that all rural Coloradans have access to comprehensive, affordable, high quality healthcare. One of the ways that CRHC works to “ensure that all rural Coloradans have access” is through policy and advocacy efforts.
Once a year, CRHC has the opportunity to visit with policy makers on the Federal level during the National Rural Health Association’s Policy Institute. This year CRHC shared the 2018 Snapshot of Rural Health, discussed our work as the State Office of Rural Health and Rural Health Association, discussed the payer mix in rural Colorado (Medicare and Medicaid) and the importance of sustained funding in these areas, discussed the preservation of rural communities and access to care, discussed how rural hospitals and rural health clinics are a key part of the rural community infrastructure, and discussed the need to relax regulations especially those around co-mingling as we move towards value based care. CRHC also shared the successes rural communities are making in the areas of quality improvement, patient centeredness and population health. Additionally, CRHC shared the struggles rural communities and people face with the high cost of insurance and the fact that twelve hospitals in Colorado operate in the red. In Colorado, we are lucky we expanded Medicaid, which in part has allowed rural hospitals to remain open, expand services, see more people, and not accrue as much bad debt as they would have without it.
The good news is that Congress listened and passed a Continuing Resolution that included many needed provisions for rural. For more information visit the NRHA website. However, our efforts cannot stop there. We need additional fixes to our regulations and reimbursement in order for rural communities and those that visit our rural communities in Colorado to have the access they need. If you’d like to get engaged at the State or Federal level in CRHC’s efforts, reach out to Kelly Erb, Policy Analyst to join us on the Policy and Legislative calls. Your voice makes a difference in rural sustainability, tell your story.