Gov Affairs 2019 Priorities Preview GOVT-160148057-2019-01-Gov Affairs 2019 Priorities - Page 8

2019 POLICY AND ADVOCACY PRIORITIES CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL COLORADO Protect and Expand Healthcare Coverage and Access for All Children Prohibit E-Cigarette Use in Public Places Medicaid is the heart of healthcare coverage for many of Colorado's children. Nearly half the kids we see at Children's Hospital Colorado rely on Medicaid for their health insurance. We see every day how access to comprehensive, reliable healthcare services—often made possible by Medicaid—allow kids to grow up healthy and strong. At the same time, we also see the many ways Medicaid must be strengthened for the children it serves. Colorado and the nation are grappling with an “epidemic” of teen electronic cigarette use, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Defending and Strengthening Colorado Medicaid Children's Colorado has long been a leader in defending the Medicaid program and standing up against efforts to limit children's access to medically-necessary care. In 2019, we will continue defending access to Medicaid and the care that it provides for the children who need it most. Yet we will simultaneously press for improvements in the program’s benefits and coverage. For example, together with patients, families and other advocates, we will urge Medicaid to cover and pay for breakthrough drugs and therapies that have life-saving potential. Safeguarding Meaningful Access to Private Coverage for Children Legislators will introduce a range of bills in the 2019 session aimed at addressing the rising costs of health insurance in rural and mountain communities where individual market options are limited. Many approaches will be debated, including reinsurance, changes to how health plans are constructed and rated on the Connect for Health Colorado Exchange, and a Colorado-specific public option. Children's Colorado will work with legislators and patient advocates to ensure that children's well-being is part of these conversations and that any changes will improve access to care and foster greater competition, while at the same time striking the right balance between robust benefits and affordability for families. With a new governor's administration coming into office, we also expect to see exploratory moves towards creating a new healthcare authority. A healthcare authority could combine some of the health-related functions currently spread out across different departments of state government. While details are still forthcoming, Children's Colorado will be engaged as this model is deliberated, serving as a voice for children in the process. Facilitating Access to Quality Oral Healthcare Cavities are one of the most common chronic childhood conditions in the United States. When untreated, they can negatively impact the ability to eat, speak, learn and play. To help ensure that no child experiences this unnecessary pain and discomfort, Children’s Colorado will partner with other advocacy organizations to champion comprehensive preventive oral healthcare for all Colorado kids and families. Specifically, we will work to add dental benefits for pregnant women participating in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—or CHP+ in our state—to improve the oral health of moms and their children. We also plan to work alongside coalition partners to hold private insurance carriers accountable in fulfilling their Affordable Care Act-required obligations to cover fluoride varnish application in primary care settings, so that all our youngest Coloradans can enjoy strong dental health. Commonly referred to as e-cigarettes, these electronic smoking devices are battery- operated products that deliver a heated solution or aerosol of nicotine and other chemicals to the consumer. In 2017, 44 percent of Colorado youth reported trying e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” at least once and 27 percent reported current use. This is the highest rate of teen e-cigarette use in the nation—and a distinction that all Colorado elected officials should agree is unacceptable. The science is clear: nicotine negatively impacts the developing brain, particularly in terms of addiction and toxicity. In addition, the aerosols in e-cigarettes can increase a consumer’s exposure to carcinogens and heavy metals like lead and arsenic, both directly and through secondhand smoke. The emerging e-cigarette industry is growing fast, with marketing campaigns that appeal to consumers by suggesting these products may be less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Despite the known damage that nicotine can have on the developing brain, only 50 percent of Colorado youth believe vaping is risky. In contrast, 87 percent believe smoking poses a threat to their health. A key strategy to addressing youth use of these products is to eliminate them in public spaces, as youth can be highly sensitive to normalization and perceptions of harm based on what they see in their environment. In 2006, Colorado passed the Clean Indoor Air Act, prohibiting the smoking of cigarettes and other tobacco products in enclosed public places like restaurants, libraries, offices, grocery stores, child care facilities and public transportation. Smoking marijuana was covered in 2013. Well-supported research suggests that the implementation of smoke- free laws can contribute to reductions in smoking rates and lead to direct population- level health benefits, such as declines in heart disease morbidity and improvements in respiratory health. In 2019, Children’s Hospital Colorado is prepared to combat the e-cigarette industry on behalf of teen health. We will lead a legislative and coalition strategy to update the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act to add the use of e-cigarettes as a prohibited activity in public indoor spaces and workplaces. Joining with advocates like the American Cancer Society, we will seek to protect Coloradans’ right to breathe clean air, free from secondhand exposure to nicotine and other harmful chemicals. Facing an accelerating e-cigarette industry, it’s vital that lawmakers uphold the enforcement of existing smoke-free laws and build on the benefits these laws have brought to Colorado. Protecting Kids at the Federal Level 8 We will continue our strong support for children with pre-existing conditions and those on Medicaid, and will staunchly oppose any federal efforts to walk back protections or impose drastic budget cuts on health or social programs for children. 9