Tuesday, March 31, 2009



Gov. Bill Ritter today issued an executive order to help improve hospital patient safety by directing the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to craft new safety guidelines, including the denial of payment for avoidable medical errors.


"Improving quality is a central part of our health reform agenda as we lead Colorado forward and re-shape the future of care in Colorado," Gov. Ritter said. "A key part of improving quality is improving patient safety, and providing hospitals with an incentive – not paying for avoidable mistakes – will help accomplish that goal. This executive order will help ensure patient safety and improve quality outcomes for Colorado patients."


The executive order directs the department to:


·         Implement a policy to deny or reduce payments for inpatient hospital Medicaid claims for procedures that involve avoidable medical errors known as "serious reportable events."


·         Work with other health organizations to help create a patient safety organization. The organization will promote quality improvement, patient wellness and patient safety by analyzing serious reportable events and identifying the causes of such events.


Gov. Ritter praised the Colorado Hospital Association and consumer advocates for agreeing to collaborate with the department on new patient-safety policies.


The executive order is the latest action by the Ritter administration to improve healthcare quality in Colorado. Last year Governor Ritter created the Center for Improving Value in Health Care, a public-private initiative to improve quality and contain costs. The Governor's Office, through legislation and budget action, has also:


·         Invested in the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) to promote electronic medical records;


·         Ensured that every child in Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus has a "medical home";


·         Increased transparency in private insurance to better inform consumers about the products they are purchasing.


Here is the complete text of Executive Order D 005 09, "Medicaid Policy on Serious Reportable Events":


Pursuant to the authority vested in the Office of the Governor of the State of Colorado, I, Bill Ritter, Jr., Governor of the State of Colorado, hereby issue this Executive Order directing the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to propose rules for the denial or reduction in payments under Medicaid for serious reportable events.


I.          Background and Purpose


Each year, healthcare errors affect the lives of numerous Colorado citizens.  Many of these are avoidable errors that occur during hospitalization, known as serious reportable events ("SREs").  Currently, no fewer than twenty-five states require licensed healthcare facilities to report SREs.   Medicare recognizes the following fifteen events as SREs :


A.                Foreign object inadvertently left in patient after surgery;

B.                 Death/disability associated with intravascular air embolism;

C.                 Death/disability associated with incompatible blood;

D.                Stage three or four pressure ulcers after admission;

E.                 Hospital-acquired injuries: fractures, dislocations, intracranial injury, crushing injury, burn and other unspecified effects of external causes;

F.                  Catheter-associated urinary tract infection;

G.                Vascular catheter-associated infection;

H.                Mediastinitis after coronary artery bypass graft surgery;

I.                   Manifestations of poor glycemic control;

J.                   Surgical site infection following certain orthopedic procedures;

K.                Surgical site infection following bariatric surgery for obesity;

L.                 Deep vein thrombosis & pulmonary embolism following certain orthopedic procedures;

M.               Surgery performed on the wrong body part;

N.                Surgery performed on the wrong patient; and

O.                Wrong surgical procedure on a patient.


Many entities, including national organizations, states, and health care facilities, have begun urging non-payment for SREs.  In the interest of improving patient safety and ensuring high quality health care, this Executive Order directs the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (the "Department") to propose rules to adjust reimbursement for inpatient hospital claims that include SREs.  Once such rules are adopted, patients should no longer be billed or balance-billed for services related to SREs. 


II.        Directive


A.                Pursuant to C.R.S. § 25.5-5-102 and C.R.S. § 25.5-5-202, the Department is hereby directed to propose rules to the Medical Services Board regarding non-payment for SRE claims submitted under the Medicaid fee-for-service program.


B.                 The Department is directed to amend contracts with managed care organizations participating in the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+, also known as the Children's Basic Health Plan) and in the Medicaid Managed Care program to meet the directives of this Executive Order. 


C.                 Because providers within the Colorado Indigent Care Program ("CICP") receive fixed grant awards, this policy will not affect such providers.


D.                In an additional effort to improve the quality and safety of health care in Colorado, the Department is encouraged to work with appropriate health care organizations to support the creation of a Patient Safety Organization.  The goals of the Organization should be 1) to promote quality improvement through analysis of SREs; and 2) to identify root causes, frequencies, and distribution with an aim of systematically reducing these events in the future and promoting patient well being and safety.  The Department may request funding through the State budget process for administrative costs associated with the implementation of the Patient Safety Organization.


III.       Duration


This Executive Order shall remain in force until modified or rescinded by future Executive Order of the Governor.


GIVEN under my hand and the

Executive Seal of the State of

Colorado this thirty-first day of

March, 2009.



Bill Ritter, Jr.



Arson Prevention????



Gov. Bill Ritter announced today that applications for $16.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for state and local law enforcement agency projects are now available. Completed applications must be submitted to the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice by May 1.


"This is one of the largest single investments in state and local law enforcement projects ever made by the federal government in Colorado," Gov. Ritter said. "These funds will create jobs in the public safety and criminal justice system, and the Division of Criminal Justice is making these important resources available quickly to Colorado communities."


Funds can be used for a wide variety of law enforcement programs, including crime prevention, multi-jurisdictional task forces, technology improvements, community corrections programs, court programs and substance abuse treatment.


Grants will be awarded based on a competitive process conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice. There is no requirement for local or state match funds for proposed projects. The funding can support programs for up to two years, beginning Oct. 1. State, county and municipal governments are eligible applicants. Local nonprofit organizations, in partnership with law enforcement organizations, may receive funding through project proposals submitted through government agencies.


The deadline for applications is May 1.


For more information about the grant program and how to obtain and submit an application, visit the Division of Criminal Justice web site, www.dcj.state.co.us.


            For additional information about how Colorado is putting the recovery act to work across the state, visit www.colorado.gov/recovery.







Gov. Bill Ritter signed one bill into law yesterday and another today. See below for details of the two bills, and visit www.colorado.gov/governor or click here for a list of legislative action so far this session.


Bill #

Short Title


Date Action


SB 066

PERA Merger State Def. Contrib. Plan 




HB 1188

Modify M. Skolnik Med Transparency 





# # #








Monday, March 30, 2009



Monday, March 30, 2009


5:45 p.m.        Gov. Ritter will deliver welcome remarks and attend the opening ceremonies for the 25th National Space Symposium. More than 7,500 attendees are expected to take part in the four-day symposium. Location: Broadmoor Hotel, 1 Lake Ave., Colorado Springs.


Friday, March 27, 2009




Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien today praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its presentation of stimulus funds that will infuse nearly $100 million in environmental funding to create jobs and improve Colorado's air, water, and land.  Today's announcement included a $1.73 million clean diesel grant to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE), and that an additional $7.3 million is available through competitive grants to entities in EPA's Region VIII, which includes the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. 


"This week, we have had three announcements about new businesses and new jobs through wind turbines, solar technology and water technology," said Lt. Gov. O'Brien. "We know that a thriving New Energy Economy means a healthy Colorado economy and a healthy Colorado environment."


CDPHE and the Regional Air Quality Council are working with the EPA to curb diesel emissions while bringing new research and design jobs to Colorado.  The Regional Air Quality Council in metro Denver has been a long-time leader in clean diesel development.


Under the Recovery Act, these grants, funded through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, are available to qualified applicants through April 28, 2009, and can be used by school districts to fund projects such as retrofitting their diesel fleets with emission controls. Today's award is the first EPA-related environmental stimulus grant to be awarded in the nation. 





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Even in dark economic times, Colorado is attracting new jobs to lead us forward -- toward the sustainable economy of the future.

This week alone, Colorado has seen three straight days of new job announcements, which will create more than 1,600 clean energy and water jobs over the coming years. Add these to the thousands of new-energy jobs we have brought to Colorado since my administration took office in 2007.

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These announcements underscore why we must continue working at the state level to build a thriving New Energy Economy that sets an example for the rest of the world to follow.

Please sign the petition supporting my administration's ambitious New Energy Agenda before the legislative session draws to a close next month.

This week I've continued my travel around the state and had the chance to visit some of the Colorado communities which are adding new, clean energy and water jobs. It's clear that even as people are struggling during these tough economic times, something exciting is happening here in Colorado.

On Monday, I visited Pueblo where The Water Company, a high-tech water-purification enterprise, announced it is moving into a bigger facility and adding more than 100 new jobs.

On Tuesday, I participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Ascent Solar's new world headquarters and manufacturing facility in Thornton. This plant will create up to 200 new jobs and serve the emerging global market for solar modules that power homes, commercial buildings and consumer devices.

And on Wednesday, I joined the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark for the ground-breaking of Vestas' two new production facilities in Brighton. Once operational, these facilities will employ 1,350 Coloradans and produce wind-generator components to power America's New Energy Economy.

These announcements demonstrate how Colorado's visionary approach and commitment to a sustainable economy are creating a brighter future and jobs that are here to stay.

Please sign the petition supporting my administration's ambitious New Energy Agenda before the legislative session draws to a close next month.

It is no accident that companies like Vestas, Ascent Solar, and The Water Company are planting roots and creating jobs in Colorado communities. New-energy, clean-tech companies are attracted to Colorado's driven workforce, thriving research corridor, world-class universities, and pro-sustainability government initiatives.

We must not cede this competitive advantage to other states or other countries, so I urge you to sign my petition supporting an ambitious New Energy Agenda today.

Thank you for all that you have done, and will continue to do, to develop a thriving 21st century economy here in Colorado.


Bill Ritter, Jr.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Gov. Bill Ritter has issued a disaster declaration due to today's blizzard, activating the National Guard to assist with rescue operations and authorizing up to $200,000 in state funds for emergency assistance.


"Our first and foremost concern is the health, safety and welfare of Colorado's citizens," Gov. Ritter said. "We have activated the State Emergency Operations Center to monitor conditions, coordinate the state's resources and respond as needed. We are also asking residents to limit their travel and encourage employers to consider releasing employees in a phased manner to alleviate heavy traffic this afternoon."


Here is the text of Executive Order D 005 09, "Declaring a Disaster Emergency Due to a Severe Blizzard":


Pursuant to the authority vested in the Governor of the State of Colorado and, in particular, pursuant to relevant portions of the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act, §§ 24-32-2100, et seq., C.R.S. I, Bill Ritter, Jr., Governor of the State of Colorado, issue this Executive Order declaring a state of disaster emergency due to a severe blizzard.


I.          Background and Purpose


Beginning early on the morning of March 26, 2009, a blizzard hit the State and it is predicted to cover much of Colorado before it dissipates.  It is predicted that this blizzard will drop between one and two feet of snow in communities along the Front Range and in excess of three feet of snow in the foothills, mountains, and southwest part of the State.  Moreover, current high winds and rain turning to snow and ice have impacted traffic safety, including causing the closure of U.S. Highway 36 between Westminster and Boulder.  The blizzard has already stranded motorists who are now in need of rescue, and it is expected that this need for emergency assistance will only grow as the full force of the blizzard moves across the State.


As Governor, I am responsible for meeting the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters.  The Colorado Disaster Emergency Act (hereinafter the "Act"), defines a disaster as "the occurrence or imminent threat of widespread or severe damages, injury or loss of life or property resulting from any natural cause or cause of human origin, including but not limited to . . . storm." C.R.S. § 24-32-2103(1.5).  As detailed in this Order, this snowstorm poses an imminent danger to human life and property and, therefore, constitutes a disaster for the purposes of the Act.


In response to this disaster, I am declaring a statewide disaster emergency and activating certain elements of the Colorado National Guard to assist with the disaster emergency response effort.  Specifically, I authorize the activation of National Guard troops, and the utilization of state emergency personnel, emergency equipment, and the state's disaster emergency fund.


State emergency equipment and personnel will be available to rescue stranded motorists, transport emergency materials to locations such as shelters and the airport, clear roadways for emergency vehicles and stranded motorists, and respond to individual emergency situations.  These efforts are necessary to adequately prepare to respond to emergency situations caused by the blizzard.


II.        Directives


A.                I hereby declare that this blizzard constitutes a disaster emergency for purposes of C.R.S. § 24-32-2103.


B.                 The State Emergency Operations Plan ("Plan") is hereby activated.  All State departments and agencies shall take whatever actions may be required and requested by the Director of the Division of Emergency Management, including provision of appropriate staff and equipment as necessary.


C.                 Pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-32-2104(6) and § 28-3-104, as commander-in-chief of military forces, I hereby employ and call to active duty certain elements of the Colorado National Guard as may be necessary to respond to this disaster, and delegate command authority to the Adjutant General of the Colorado Department of Military.  I order the Adjutant General of the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Director of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management to coordinate activities between their respective department and division as necessary to respond to this disaster emergency and execute the directives contained in this Executive Order.


D.                Pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-32-2106, I find that the funds in the Disaster Emergency Fund are insufficient; therefore, pursuant to paragraph (2) of Section 1 of the 2008 Long Bill (House Bill 08-1375) and paragraph (2) of Section 1 of Senate Bill 09-204, I order that $200,000 be transferred from the Major Medical Insurance Fund to the Disaster Emergency Fund.  I further order the encumbrance of up to $200,000 from the Disaster Emergency Fund to pay for the response and recovery effort related to this disaster.  The Director of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management is hereby authorized and directed to allocate the funding to the appropriate agencies.  These funds shall remain available for this purpose for six months from the date of this Executive Order, and any unexpended funds shall remain in the Disaster Emergency Fund.


E.                 The Director of the Division of Emergency Management is hereby authorized and directed to allocate the funding to the appropriate state agencies and coordinate application to the federal government for any reimbursable funding related to the disaster emergency.


III.       Duration


This Executive Order shall expire thirty days from its date of signature unless extended further by Executive Order, except that the funds described in paragraph II(D) above shall remain available for the described purposes for six months from the date of this Executive Order.


GIVEN under my hand and the

Executive Seal of the State of

Colorado this twenty-sixth day of

March, 2009.



Bill Ritter, Jr.



Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Thursday, March 26, 2009


9 a.m.              Gov. Ritter will take part in a panel discussion during the Aspen Institute's Environment Forum, "Powering the Planet: Energy for the Long Run." The panel is titled, "A New Energy Era for Government?" Location: Aspen Institute, McNulty Room, Doerr-Hosier Center.


1:30 p.m.        Lt. Gov. O'Brien will testify before the House Education Committee on House Bill 1319 (Merrifield/Williams). The bill, known as Colorado ASCENT (Accelerating Students through Concurrent ENrollmenT), would allow high school students statewide to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and a college associate's degree. Location: House Committee Room 112, State Capitol.  


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Surrounded by friends and relatives of recent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, Gov. Bill Ritter today signed the Lofgren and Johnson Families Carbon Monoxide Safety Act into law.
The act is named after Parker and Caroline Lofgren and their children Owen (10) and Sophie (8), all of whom died while vacationing in Aspen over Thanksgiving, and Lauren Johnson, a 23-year-old University of Denver graduate student who died in her apartment in January.
"This past year, we tragically lost a number of people to carbon monoxide poisoning," Gov. Ritter said as he signed House Bill 09-1091 into law at a Denver fire station. "My heart goes out to the family members standing here with me today. This legislation will help prevent additional losses by simply having monitors installed in homes.
"I want to thank the sponsors of this very important legislation: Reps. Soper and Court and Sen. Romer," Gov. Ritter said. "Our state thanks you for helping to keep our residents safe."
Effective July 1, the act requires that carbon monoxide alarms be installed in new and sold residential properties.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that cannot be seen or smelled and can be fatal within minutes of exposure. Most incidents happen in the winter, mainly due to an increased use in fuel-burning appliances. Roughly 83 percent of Colorado single-family homes use gas, wood, kerosene, coal or fuel as their major heat source, all of which emit carbon monoxide.
The new law requires that all new or sold residential properties have carbon monoxide alarms on each floor of the property. Rental properties will also be required to add carbon monoxide alarms when tenants change.
Gov. Ritter also announced that Kidde, the largest manufacturer of carbon monoxide alarms, donated 300 alarms to the Denver Fire Department to distribute throughout Denver.