Saturday, February 28, 2009



Gov. Ritter issued the following statement today praising President Obama's selection of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:


"The President has made a wise and outstanding choice in selecting Gov. Sebelius to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Over the past two decades, improving access to quality and affordable health care has been a hallmark of her public service as governor, insurance commissioner and as a state legislator.


"As a Democratic governor in a traditionally Republican state, she has worked successfully across party lines to take on many tough issues and move Kansas forward. This commitment to doing what's best for her state, without regard for partisan politics, will serve her well as she tackles the enormous challenge of national health-care reform and other critical human-service issues. 


"As a fellow governor from a neighboring state, I have long admired Gov. Sebelius, have learned much from her and know she will serve our country with distinction."


Friday, February 27, 2009



9:30 a.m.         Lt. Gov. O'Brien will provide welcome remarks to 600 students and declare March 2 as "Read Across America Day." Location: Seawell Ballroom, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 1101 13th St.


10 a.m.            Gov. Ritter will make his regular monthly appearance on the Mike Rosen radio show, 850 AM KOA.


1:30 p.m.        Gov. Ritter will sign Senate Bill 08-108, the Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery bill. FASTER will create thousands of jobs and allow the state to repair unsafe bridges and roads around Colorado. Location: Southwest corner of Interstate 25 and 84th Avenue interchange in Thornton. From northbound I-25, exit at 84th Avenue, turn left, then take the next left at Acoma and left again at West 83rd Avenue. Follow the street until it dead-ends.




Friday, Feb. 27, 2009


9:30 a.m.         Gov. Ritter will preside over the change-of-command and swearing-in ceremony for the new chief of the Colorado State Patrol, James Wolfinbarger. Location: West Steps, Colorado State Capitol.


10:30 a.m.       The Governor and First Lady will take part in Teach for America Day, spending time in a classroom with students and teachers. Location: Cole Middle School, 3240 Humbolt St., Denver.


1 p.m.              Lt. Gov. O'Brien will take part in Teach for America Day. Location: Skinner Middle School, 3435 W. 40th Ave., Denver.


Thursday, February 26, 2009


Legislation would provide coverage to more than 100,000 uninsured Coloradans


Gov. Bill Ritter today announced new legislation that would provide health coverage to more than 100,000 uninsured Colorado citizens and families while also addressing cost-shifting that increases expenses on the insured and private businesses.


The Colorado Healthcare Affordability Act, which will be designated as House Bill 1293, would allow Colorado to leverage state funds to draw down additional federal funds to provide coverage to more than 100,000 uninsured Coloradans. The proposal also would help stem the rising cost of health insurance for businesses and families by addressing cost-shifting, one of the key drivers of rising costs, without increasing the burden on taxpayers.


"Roughly 800,000 Coloradans, including 180,000 children, currently lack health insurance," Gov. Ritter said. "Over the past two years, we've launched a Building Blocks to Healthcare Reform strategy. The Colorado Healthcare Affordability Act gives us an opportunity to continue that progress, and to make major strides at a time when more and more families are struggling just to keep food on the table."


By assessing a provider fee on hospitals, Colorado would generate an additional $600 million a year to provide coverage to the uninsured, and receive $600 million in federal matching funds. The combined $1.2 billion would cover more than 100,000 currently uninsured Coloradans through Medicaid and the Child Health Plan Plus. The funds also would improve hospital reimbursement rates for service provided through Medicaid and the Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP).


"Annually, Colorado hospitals incur more than $375 million in uncompensated costs by serving Medicaid patients because they receive less than 55 percent of total costs for treating Coloradans in need," said Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) President and CEO Steven Summer. CHA represents 90 hospitals and health systems throughout Colorado. "We are committed to expanding access to affordable healthcare services for those most at risk."


The bill will be sponsored by the Joint Budget Committee, the bipartisan group of legislators that is responsible for setting the state budget each year.


Sen. Moe Keller (D-Wheat Ridge), chair of the committee and one of the bill sponsors, said "This proposal will expand coverage to more than 100,000 uninsured Coloradans and create an opportunity for the state to reform and modernize the way payment rates are set for hospitals, creating a more rational and transparent hospital payment structure."


More than 40 states have implemented this type of strategy for health programs, including more than 20 states that have hospital provider fees. Colorado passed a similar law with nursing home providers in 2008 (House Bill 08-1114, which was co-sponsored by then-Rep. Al White (R-Hayden) and Sen. Jim Isgar (D-Hesperus)).


"Uninsured patients and Medicaid underpayment to hospitals are two of the primary drivers of cost-shifting in healthcare," said JBC member and bill sponsor Rep. Don Marostica (R-Loveland). "This legislation will allow us to cover a significant portion of the uninsured and reduce the rate of rising healthcare costs all across the state."


Rep. Jim Riesberg (D-Greeley), one of the lead sponsors, is Chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.  He said, "With the help of hospitals statewide, Colorado can draw down federal funds at a dollar-for-dollar match to provide coverage to more than 100,000 Coloradans. This is the most vital healthcare expansion we've made in years. Especially in this time of economic crisis, to be able to expand coverage for the most vulnerable among us is a crucial and ingenious step to keeping healthcare affordable for everyone."


The Colorado Hospital Association, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and the Governor's Office have been working together for more than nine months to develop the proposal.


If approved by the legislature, the plan will be submitted to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for final approval.




American Academy of Pediatrics
Business Health Forum
Chronic Care Collaborative
Colorado Academy of Family Physicians
Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry
Colorado Association of Health Plans
Colorado Center on Law and Policy
Colorado Children's Health Advocates

Colorado Concern
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative
Colorado Community Health Network
Colorado Forum

Colorado Health Foundation
Colorado Medical Society
Colorado Nurses Association

Colorado Voices for Coverage Coalition

Downtown Denver Inc.

Grand Junction Chamber

Rocky Mountain Health Plans

San Luis Valley HMO

United Healthcare




The Challenge: Nearly 800,000 Coloradans, including 180,000 children, lack healthcare coverage. With the economy in a recession and unemployment rising, the number of uninsured citizens only threatens to increase. This will place a greater demand on taxpayers, private employers, hospitals, emergency rooms and all public health providers, at a time when revenues and resources are declining.


The Opportunity: With the help of hospitals statewide, Colorado can leverage state funds to draw down federal funds at a dollar-for-dollar match to provide coverage to more than 100,000 Coloradans. More than 40 states utilize this financing strategy, including 20 states that assess a provider fee on hospitals. Colorado enacted this strategy with nursing homes in 2008 through House Bill 1114.


The Proposal: Use revenue from a new hospital provider fee, plus the increased federal matching funds, to:

o       Cover more than 100,000 uninsured Coloradans through Medicaid and CHP+

o       Increase hospital reimbursement rates under Medicaid and the Colorado Indigent Care Program (CICP)

o       Pay the administrative costs of implementing the program


Increasing coverage and reimbursement will reduce uncompensated care and address one of the key drivers of cost-shifting to the private sector and the insured. It will help stem rising costs for everyone, and do it in a way that doesn't increase costs to taxpayers or consumers. This proposal will also create an opportunity for the state to reform and modernize the way payment rates are set for hospitals, creating a more rational and transparent hospital payment structure.


The Numbers: The fee assessed on Colorado hospitals will generate approximately $600 million a year for the state. That new revenue will be used to drawn down an equal amount in federal funds, for total new revenue of approximately $1.2 billion annually.


The Benefits: This is a tremendous opportunity to provide coverage for the uninsured, address cost- shifting and make substantive progress towards healthcare reform.


People of Colorado – More than 100,000 additional Coloradans will be eligible for coverage through Medicaid and CHP+. Privately insured and self-pay Coloradans, as well as private employers, benefit from reductions in uncompensated care that contributes to cost shifting.


Colorado Hospitals – Benefit from increased Medicaid and CICP rates, which allows them to continue providing care to Medicaid and CHP+ clients. In the last year, Colorado hospitals treated nearly 80,000 individuals covered by Medicaid and CICP.


All Healthcare Providers – Benefit from the 100,000 additional Coloradans who will now be able to access the healthcare system with Medicaid coverage.


The State of Colorado – Benefits from the approximately $600 million of new federal revenue gained without spending any general funds.




How will the money be used?

This new revenue can be used for only three purposes: (1) providing coverage to the uninsured by expanding eligibility for Medicaid and CHP+; (2) increasing hospital reimbursement rates under Medicaid and CICP; and (3) covering administrative costs of HCPF for implementing the program.


Proposed public insurance program expansions

·         Medicaid expansions for parents and childless adults up to 100% FPL

·         CHP+ expansions for kids and pregnant women up to 250% FPL

·         Buy-in program for disabled adults and kids up to 400% FPL

·         Continuous eligibility for Medicaid children


Proposed hospital payment increases

·         Reimbursement for Medicaid inpatient and outpatient care will be increased to the upper payment limit (UPL), which is the maximum allowable reimbursement under Medicaid. This rate is still below what it costs a hospital to treat a Medicaid patient.  

·         CICP reimbursement will be increased up to 100% of cost.


Won't the hospitals just shift the fee onto insurers and consumers?

No. Today, care for uninsured patients and Medicaid underpayment to hospitals are two of the primary drivers of cost-shifting in healthcare. This proposal will increase hospital reimbursement rates, cover a significant portion of the uninsured and thereby reduce the cost shift.


Provisions are included in the legislation to ensure that the provider fee is not shifted onto patients or insurers. Line item billing of the hospital provider fee will be prohibited. There are also transparency requirement that include an annual accounting of provider fees paid by each hospital and projected revenue to each hospital in the form of new Medicaid and CICP payments.


If we do nothing, the cost-shift will continue to grow. This is our best hope to increase coverage for the uninsured, address Medicaid underpayment and cost-shifting.


Why is a hospital rate increase needed under Medicaid and CICP?

Annually, Colorado hospitals incur more than $375 million in uncompensated costs by serving Medicaid patients because hospitals receive less than 55% of total costs for treating Medicaid patients. By increasing hospital reimbursement rates and covering the uninsured, we will reduce the rate of rising healthcare costs.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009




Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009


10 a.m.            Gov. Ritter will deliver morning keynote remarks to open the two-day "Western Climate Policy Forum: Charting the Path Ahead." Location: Hyatt Regency Convention Center Hotel, 650 15th St., Denver.


11:45 a.m.       Gov. Ritter will deliver remarks to newspaper publishers and editors from around the state during a luncheon that is part of the Colorado Press Association's 131st annual convention. Location: Governor's Residence, Carriage House, 8th and Logan streets, Denver.


1 p.m.              Gov. Ritter, Lt. Gov. O'Brien, the Colorado Hospital Association, legislators and healthcare and business leaders will  announce the introduction of the Colorado Healthcare Affordability Act, which will provide health coverage to more than 100,000 uninsured Coloradans. Location: Denver Health Medical Center, Pavilion for Women and Children, first floor rotunda, 790 Delaware St.


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Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien today toured the recently opened non-profit eSpace Center for Space Entrepreneurship in Louisville.  The center, designed to help small aerospace entrepreneurs develop products and share information, is a partnership between the University of Colorado and SpaceDev, an incubator for aerospace companies and workforce development.


The center opened with funding from the Department of Labor, Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Air Force Research Lab in Albuquerque, NM.


"The eSpace Center model is an innovative approach to keeping our aerospace industry growing and healthy," said Lt. Gov. O'Brien. "It not only gives small companies an opportunity to test and develop their products, but it allows aerospace students to get real world experience while they are learning," she added.


Colorado has the second largest aerospace industry in the country and Gov. Ritter has identified it as one of the four key sectors for Colorado. Seven prime aerospace contractors and 300 smaller aerospace companies are located in the state. More than 26,000 private-sector aerospace employees and more than 171,000 jobs are associated with aerospace.


Lt. Gov. O'Brien serves as a co-chair of the Colorado Space Coalition, a collaboration of research centers, aerospace companies, military leaders, academic organizations, economic development groups and government to promote Colorado's aerospace industry.



Photo Caption Description:

Lt. Gov. O'Brien is pictured with SpaceDev founder Scott Tibbitts (left) and Aerospace Department Chair at CU Boulder Jeff Forbes (right).



# # #


Friday, February 20, 2009


Gov. Bill Ritter will join governors from around the country this weekend at the National Governors Association annual winter meeting in Washington, D.C. Jobs, the economy and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Obama signed into law in Colorado earlier this week, will be among the topics discussed.
Governors will be meeting with the President, members of his Cabinet, congressional members, academic leaders, business executives and other experts.
Gov. Ritter also will be participating in sessions on issues important to Colorado, including strengthening the nation's infrastructure, reducing home foreclosures, building out a modern energy infrastructure, addressing climate change, reforming health care, and retraining the American workforce for a 21st century, global economy.
For more information about the annual meeting, visit or contact the NGA media office at 202-624-5301. Some of the highlights:
Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009
8 a.m. MST                The NGA 2009 Winter Meeting will host an opening news conference. Location: J.W. Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C.
9:30 a.m. MST           Opening Session: Energy Infrastructure for the 21st Century. Keynotes: T. Boone Pickens and John W. Rowe, chairman and CEO of Exelon Corp.
Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009
            8 a.m.                          Education Committee Session: Transforming the Workforce System: Upskilling American Workers.
            Noon                           Natural Resources Committee: Energy Infrastructure: Vital for a 21st Century Economy.       
Monday, Feb. 23, 2009
7:30 a.m. MST           Governors will meet at the White House with President Obama, Treasury Secretary Geithner and HUD Secretary Donovan to discuss the national economic outlook and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Media availability: 9:30 a.m. MST.


Gov. Bill Ritter is urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to quickly certify the Ruby gas pipeline, a $3 billion project that would carry 1.5 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas from Colorado and other Rocky Mountain states the Oregon/California border.
"Colorado is one of the nation's leading natural-gas producers," Gov. Ritter. "But a lack of pipeline capacity means our natural gas sells for less in the marketplace. That hurts Colorado gas producers and puts Colorado jobs at risk. We're asking the Commission to expedite approval of the Ruby pipeline to help protect thousands of Colorado jobs, to support an important Colorado industry, and to help move America closer to energy security."
The 42-inch pipeline would stretch 675.2 miles from Opal, Wyo., through Utah and Nevada to the Oregon/California border.
Here is the complete text of Gov. Ritter's Feb. 19 letter to the Commission:
Office of the Acting Chairman and Commissioners
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Acting Chairman Jon Wellinghoff
Commissioner Suedeen G. Kelly
Commissioner Philip D. Moeller
Commissioner Marc Spitzer
Commissioner Joseph T. Kelliher
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20426
Re: Application of Ruby Pipeline, LLC for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, Docket No. CP09-54-000
Dear Acting Chairman Wellinghoff, and Commissioners Kelly, Moeller, Spitzer and Kelliher:
I am writing to express the support of the State of Colorado for the Ruby Pipeline Project and to request that the FERC expedite the processing of the certificate application that was filed by Ruby on January 27, 2009.
The proposed Ruby Pipeline will consist of approximately 675.2 miles of 42-inch outside diameter natural gas pipeline, compression facilities and measurement facilities, located between the confluence of existing pipeline facilities near Opal, Wyoming (the Opal Hub) and Malin, Oregon.
The Ruby Pipeline will have a design capacity of up to approximately 1.5 million dekatherms per day ("MDth/d").
Colorado is a major producer of natural gas, and the proposed Ruby Pipeline is an important link between the prolific producing areas of Colorado and other mountain states and the consuming areas of California and the Pacific Northwest.
Natural gas production in Colorado makes a substantial contribution to the economic well-being of the State, and also makes a significant contribution to the energy requirements of our country. 
For these contributions to continue, producers need assurance that the produced natural gas will have an outlet to the consuming areas of the country.
In the absence of adequate "take-away" capacity, the market for Colorado-produced natural gas will be artificially constrained and production will be reduced, to the detriment of the Colorado economy and our nation's energy independence. This has occurred in the past, and I am concerned that it will happen again in the near future if the Ruby Pipeline project is not constructed.
I ask the FERC to proceed diligently with the processing of the Ruby Pipeline Certificate Application and to thoughtfully consider all approvals that may be required for Ruby to construct, own and operate the Ruby Pipeline. 
Thank you for your attention to the concerns of the State of Colorado.
Bill Ritter, Jr.
Governor of the State of Colorado