Politics: Hickenlooper talks health care policy at Salud in Fort Morgan – Fort Morgan Times

On Friday, Jan. 10, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper attended a roundtable discussion at Salud Family Health Center in Fort Morgan as part of his tour of health care facilities around the state.

Hickenlooper currently is campaigning to be the Democratic nominee to oppose U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, the incumbent Republican who is seeking re-election in November. Last week, he made stops in Sterling, Julesburg and Fort Morgan where he talked about rural health care and other issues.

During the hour-long discussion Friday in Fort Morgan, Salud administrators, staff and patients told  Hickenlooper about the issues facing community health centers and the ways they are providing quality care for less than other primary care options.

  • Salud’s CEO and President John Santistevan and Chief Medical Officer Tillman Farley speak with former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper at Salud Family Health Center in Fort Morgan on Friday, Jan. 10. Hickenlooper is currently running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Cory Gardner. (Jack Harvel/The Fort Morgan Times)

  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper listens to CEOs, staff and patients at Salud Family Health Center in Fort Morgan on Friday, Jan. 10. The roundtable is part of Hickenlooper’s Expanding Coverage, Lowering Costs tour on his campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Colorado. (Jack Harvel/The Fort Morgan Times)

  • Ron Schrum gets a photo taken with former Gov. John Hickenlooper by Melissa Schrum after recognizing Hickenlooper in the reception hall of Salud Family Health Center in Fort Morgan on Friday, Jan 10.

  • Jack Harvel

    Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper takes a tour around Salud Family Health Center in Fort Morgan on Friday, Jan. 10. He met with nursing staff and doctors before a roundtable discussion on the current state and direction of health care in Colorado. Hickenlooper is currently running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Cory Gardner. (Jack Harvel/The Fort Morgan Times)

“You are the keystone of the whole safety net,” Hickenlooper said. “This is something to work on in Washington (D.C.), but you should be one of the main pathways to 100% coverage.”

Community health centers, like Salud, typically offer integrated services in behavioral health, physical health, pharmaceutical care and dental services in one location.

Salud CEO John Santistevan said they are facing issues with Medicaid reimbursement. Before the Affordable Care Act, Salud received about 36% of its funding from Medicaid, and afterwards that shot up to 58%.

Since then, the number of patients on Medicaid dipped back down to about 49%.

“It really puts a big crunch on our budget. Every one of those percentage points to Salud is half a million dollars,” Santistevan said.

Santistevan gave four possible reasons Medicare enrollment is down. Some people have priced out, and are making more than 133% of the federal poverty level; the state tightening eligibility requirements; less re-enrollment due to cutbacks in number of mailed reminders; and more people fearful of a public charge threatening their legal status for immigration purposes.

Those who earn their way out of Medicaid find themselves in a position where the cost of health care skyrockets.

“You earn 199% of the poverty level, you pay $25. You earn 200% of poverty level, you pay market rate,” Tillman Farley, M.D, chief medical officer of Salud Family Health Centers, explained.

Hickenlooper was worried this would discourage people from asking for raises. Farley noted that people who have priced out of Medicaid are often uninsured.

Salud administrators were also worried about the possibility of cuts to federal funding that was expanded by the ACA, which has to be renewed every two years.

Medical practices of the future were also pitched during the discussion, with a highlight on how Salud Community Health Centers has grown during the last decade.

“We want to be known as the primary care model for this country,” Santistevan said.

The amount of services offered under one roof and the cost saving of community health centers is a big selling point.

“Community health centers account for 2% of the Medicaid budget, and yet we see 30% of primary care patients in the state of Colorado,” Farley said.

Hickenlooper was interested in the advances of telemedicine, which can involve a doctor-patient videoconference done instead of an in-person visit.

“I thought for so long it was the patients that was resistant to telemedicine,” Hickenloooper said. “They’re not resistant, they think it’s kind of interesting, they trust it. It’s really the bureaucracy.”

The former governor thought telemedicine should be encouraged as a way to expand coverage at lower costs.

Difficulties recruiting doctors in rural areas was also brought up. Salud administrators told Hickenlooper about their struggles retaining doctors for long periods of time. Though attracting some professionals through loan repayment programs, often doctors would move on after their loans had been repaid.

Rural training programs have been more successful, in which medical students are offered residencies at medical facilities in rural areas. This would reduce the costs of recruiting doctors to rural areas, which is estimated to cost $200,000 each.

Defined by Nature: Planet Earth Habitant, Human, Son of Eladio Rodulfo & Briceida Moya, Brother of Gabriela, Gustavo & Katiuska, Father of Gabriel & Sofia; Defined by the Society: Venezuelan Citizen (Human Rights Limited by default), Friend of many, Enemy of few, Neighbor, Student/Teacher/Student, Worker/Supervisor/Manager/Leader/Worker, Husband of Katty/ Ex-Husband of K/Husband of Yohana; Defined by the US Immigration System: Legal Alien; Defined by the Gig Economy: Independent Contractor Form 1099; Studies in classroom: Master Degree in Human Resources Management, English, Chinese Mandarin; Studies at the real world: Human Behavior; Studies at home: Webmaster SEO, Graphic Web Apps Design, Internet & Social Media Marketing, Video Production, You Tube Branding, Trading, Import-Exports, Affiliate Marketing, Cooking, Laundry, Home Cleaning; Work experience: Public-Private-Entrepreneur Sectors; Other Definitions: Bitcoin Evangelist, Human Rights Peace and Love Advocate. Author of: Why Maslow: How to use his theory to stay in Power Forever (EN/SP); Asylum Seekers (EN/SP); Manual for Gorillas: 9 Rules to be the “Fer-pect” Dictator (EN/SP); Why you must Play the Lottery (EN/SP); Para Español Oprima #2: Speaking Spanish in Times of Xenophobia (EN/SP). Social Media profiles: Twitter/FB/Instagram/VK/Linkedin/Sina Weibo: @rodulfox
%d bloggers like this: