Colorado governor defends health plan |

Colorado governor defends health plan

Associated Press Writer

DENVER – In May 2007, Gov. Bill Ritter signed legislation providing health care coverage to all low-income children by 2010. On Thursday, he got the results.

According to a report by the Colorado Health Foundation, a nonprofit organization promoting better health care, Colorado went from a C- in 2008 to a D+ last year providing health care for children.

Ritter dismissed the report, saying the information was old and the programs he started had not had time to work.

“You don’t pass a bill and children go (immediately) to medical homes. It’s imperative to enact reform now because there is a lag effect,” he said.

He also said the report card shows there is more to be done.

“When you get a bad grade like a D+, we have a lot more work to do,” Ritter told a foundation forum on health care.

The bill signed by Ritter in 2007 included presumptive eligibility for children and 12-month continuous coverage for children. It also promoted medical homes where children can get comprehensive, family-centered health care and a campaign to enroll 40,000 children who were eligible but not enrolled in the Children’s Basic Health Plan. Eligibility was also expanded for low-income children.

Dr. James Todd, an Aurora physician, said some of the information used to compile the report was issued in 2007 and did not reflect programs Ritter implemented after he took office in 2007.

Todd said it was the only data available to compare all 50 states and rank them on performance. He said more recent data shows Colorado improved child health care after Ritter took office.

Ritter also signed an executive order Thursday directing state agencies under his control to streamline the Medicaid and Children’s Basic Health Plan application process through data-sharing agreements.

Democrats at the forum said they are introducing 10 bills that include programs to increase efficiency, cost savings and accountability for Medicaid, improvements to public and private health insurance, and better care for women and children.

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