I’m fortunate that a large part of my job is talking to employers, large and small, on a regular basis. It is an enjoyable aspect of my job and more importantly, it is relevant for the Vail Valley Partnership to understand the challenges facing our business community.
The Partnership is hosting our eighth annual Vail Valley Business Forum on July 22 at Four Seasons Resort Vail from 8:30-11 a.m.; this year’s theme is “Regional Challenges, Local Solutions.” Attendees will gain access to the latest ideas and information in the areas of regional economic development, workforce, health care and transportation. There are a few topics that rise above others in my conversations with our business community.
While each of these topics is important in its own right, the most consistent challenge mentioned by businesses throughout all job sectors and geographic locations is health care. Recent changes to health care legislation and the cost of providing insurance — or employees finding insurance — has a major impact on our business vitality and on our community. It is an important consideration for our community moving forward.
It’s no secret that Colorado’s Rocky Mountain resort region, including the Vail Valley and Eagle County, currently pay the nation’s highest health insurance rates under the maps created by the Affordable Care Act. As such, we are happy to invite Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar as a keynote speaker to the Vail Valley Business Forum.
Marguerite Salazar was appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper as Colorado Insurance Commissioner effective Aug. 19, 2013. Her role is key in assisting consumers and other stakeholders with insurance needs, including homeowners affected by Colorado wildfires and subsequent flooding. As the chief executive of the Division of Insurance, Salazar works with the insurance industry to bring an inclusive, open, firm and fair-minded regulatory approach to all lines of insurance under her supervision.
Previously, President Obama appointed Salazar as regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Region VIII. As regional director, she played a vital role in the department’s effort to effectively implement the federal Affordable Care Act. Prior to this appointment Salazar served more than 20 years as president and CEO of Valley-Wide Health Systems, a large, rural community health center covering 22 counties in southern Colorado and serving more than 40,000 patients through 26 primary health care clinics.
Salazar is a fellow in the National Hispana Leadership Institute, as well as a Livingston fellow in the Bonfil Stanton Foundation. She was a trustee for the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation and was appointed to serve on the board of governors for Colorado State University. She served as chair for the Colorado Humanities and also served on the board of trustees for the Nature Conservancy and the National Center for Farmworker Health.
Salazar, with her qualifications and experience, is uniquely qualified to speak to the challenge of health care in rural communities such as the Vail Valley. Earlier this summer, thanks to the efforts of the business community and elected officials throughout the mountain resort region, Salazar agreed to redraw the state insurance maps and create a new 22-county region for health care insurance. While there is no guarantee of what next year’s health insurance rates might be, being part of a larger region should benefit employers who provide insurance, as well as those purchasing on the individual market.
We are excited to have Salazar update attendees at the business forum on health care efforts in place in Colorado related to the Affordable Care Act. Following the presentation, we will have a moderated question and answer session moderated by Jennifer Ludwig from Eagle County Public Health & Human Services and Pam Beaudin from Medical Claims Advocates to explore the needs of the local business community related to this topic.
We invite you to join us at the Vail Valley Business Forum on July 22 from 8:30-11 a.m. to help bring discussion of a variety of regional issues, including health care, to our community. Tickets are available to VVP members for $15 and non-member tickets are $30. Complete program information is available at VailValleyPartnership.com
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.