Two Colorado Springs health care and business professionals have been elected to serve on advisory task forces for the Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform, also known as the 208 Commission.
Steve Krell, vice president of Imaging Systems and a member of Colorado Consumer Insurance Council, and B.J. Scott, president and CEO of Peak Vista Community Health Center, will each serve on one of the commission’s four task forces.
Scott will serve on the Provider Task Force and Krell is on the Business Task Force. The other task forces — vulnerable populations and rural — have no Colorado Springs representatives.
Sixty-five people were chosen from 360 applications. The advisory task forces will provide input to the commission about the four proposals being evaluated by an outside consultant, and a fifth proposal that will be developed by the commission.
“We’ll look to the task forces to shine the light of real-world experience on the proposals under consideration,” said Commission Chairman Bill Lindsay. “For example, how would a self-insured employer, who is not subject to state regulation, view some of the proposals being considered? What kind of benefit package is acceptable to a person living with a disability? This is a level of understanding that technical analysis can’t offer.”
Lindsay said the group tried to select task force members who represented a broad geographic diversity, a diversity of backgrounds and experiences, and a mix of direct service users, service providers and policy experts.
The commission was created by former Gov. Bill Owens, through Senate Bill 208. The commission is charged with developing a comprehensive proposal for health care reform to be delivered to the General Assembly by January 2008.
The goal is to increase health care coverage and decrease costs for Coloradoans, with particular emphasis on the issues of the uninsured, underinsured and those at risk of financial hardship because of the costs of medical care.

Fraud seminar planned

The Colorado Health Treatment Task Force is hosting an educational event geared toward health professionals who work in a chronic disease field and are advocates for their patients or clients.
The free conference will provide participants with the tools needed to identify health fraud, as well as fraudulent material. The event is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Holiday Inn on 455 S. Colorado Blvd. in Denver.
Highlights include defining health fraud, psychology of health fraud, ethics and health fraud, legal implications of health fraud, Internet fraud and identifying fraudulent products and services.
Call Lisa Cohen at (303) 819-2264 for more information.

Medicare testing electronic health records

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has launched a project to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to take advantage of Internet-based tools to track their health care services and provide them with other resources to communicate with providers.
The program will allow beneficiaries to access and use personal health records provided through participating health plans at The records include information about medical conditions, hospitalizations, doctor visits and medications. Other information available includes policy numbers, lists of medications and medical conditions.
The beneficiary is in charge of the electronic file and can control who is able to see the information.
CMS will launch the program in July in conjunction with four health plans: HIP USA, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Each plan has a unique electronic record tool that will be accessible to beneficiaries.
The pilot program will last 18 months, after which CMS will assess how useful the program is to beneficiaries.

Highest percentage of uninsured children

Colorado has the highest percentage of uninsured children in the United States — 19 percent, according to a Carsey Institute study.
The study also found that more than one-third of rural children are reliant on Medicaid and State Child Health Insurance programs for medical care. The study focused on small towns and rural areas, where one-fifth of the nation’s poor children live.
“Although SCHIP and Medicaid programs are largely federal programs, they obviously differ in their impact across the states,” the report said. “The large differences among the states in terms of uninsured children highlight the important role state governments play in ensuring access to health care for vulnerable children.”
States with the lowest uninsured rates included Vermont, 5 percent; Kansas, 6 percent; Michigan, 6 percent; Nebraska, 6 percent; New Hampshire, 6 percent; Illinois, 7 percent; Iowa, 7 percent; Tennessee, 7 percent; and Wisconsin, 7 percent.
States with the highest uninsured rates included Nevada, 16 percent; Oklahoma, 16 percent; Arizona, 17 percent; Montana, 17 percent; New Mexico, 18 percent; Texas, 18 percent; and Colorado, 19 percent.
Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.