March 19, 2013
03/23/13Community Issues Forum CancelledGood Morning Friends and Neighbors,
Due to the inclement weather we have decided to CANCEL the Community Issues Forum for today, March 23rd. We are hoping to reschedule for April 6th, as "Colorado Healthcare" is an important and complicated issue that needs further discussion. I am sorry for any inconvenience this late cancellation may cause and wish everyone a safe day.
Senator Says Medicaid Expansion Will Impact State’s Poverty Rate
State Senator John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins), a member of the Health and Human Services Committee, is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 200 which would expand income eligibility in the Medicaid Program to 133 per cent of the federal poverty line. A longtime champion of lower-income Coloradans, Senator Kefalas was one of five senators who voted for the bill when it passed out of Committee last week. In an interview with Catherine Strode, Coordinator of the Health Care Advocacy Program, Senator Kefalas said expansion of the Medicaid program will have a positive ‘intergenerational effect’ on poverty in Colorado.
What kind of an impact will Medicaid expansion have in our state?
“I think it’s going to be a significant impact. Right now we know that perhaps 16 to 18 per cent of the population is uninsured. The biggest reason why people are uninsured is cost. For a lot of working families the cost of buying private health insurance is out of reach. Senate Bill 200 expands Medicaid to adults without children and parents of kids up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four that’s about 31 or 32 thousand dollars. The direct impact that it will have is that people who don’t have access to health care coverage will get access. When we had testimony, the first person who spoke was a mother from the western slope. She was basically in tears because they know they want to provide that security for their children, but it’s just unaffordable. This will be able to touch more of those families. Ultimately, I think it’s a wise investment in Colorado, in families, in children, in adults. If they have health care coverage then they can focus on the front end of taking care of themselves therefore - primary care – therefore - prevention. A lot of times people who don’t have coverage delay having checkups and down the road find out they have some medical condition. Then, ultimately, we all pay for that. The Medicaid expansion is a wise thing. It’s going to take a couple of years, but ultimately, it’s going to make a big dent on the 800,000 Coloradan adults and children who don’t have access to health care coverage. It’s good for the state; it’s good for everyone. If children are healthier, if families are healthier, I think communities are healthier, local economies are healthier. Kids do better in school when they’re well. They can emphasize proper nutrition; it’s a way of dealing with issues like obesity. I think it’s the proper thing for Colorado to do.”
How will Medicaid expansion impact poverty in Colorado?
“It will impact issues related to child poverty, family poverty. There are a lot of working families out there but they don’t make enough earnings to be able to afford health insurance or many of the other things that many of us take for granted. Having this coverage will at least set aside that financial need until that family can have more financial security, earn greater income. I think this will have an intergenerational effect because once parents have access to health care, in my opinion that has a ripple effect on that family. Adults being proper role models for children, children will take better care of themselves. That increases their chances for academic success in school and we all know that when children graduate from high school and go on to post secondary, their earnings also will improve.”
How do you think Medicaid expansion will affect business in Colorado?
“It is good for business, on a number of fronts. One of the comments was made, that there is logic in doing this because it will create greater transparency in terms of cost shifting. Right now, people say, “Why are we doing this? If someone is sick they can go to the hospital, they can go to the emergency room and they can’t be turned away.” Of course, that is the case but that is very illogical because ultimately somebody has to pay for that and hospitals have a responsibility to accept those people. But that’s an example of undercompensated care. If those people cannot pay for those medical bills, that gets shifted onto insurance premiums, private insurance. So there’s greater transparency in that issue and I think that’s really important. I also think that businesses are looking at it from a work force perspective. We know that in the small group market (less than 50 employees) if you’re an employer, and you want to supply coverage for your employees, it’s a great thing to do. But it’s a hard thing to do because it’s so terribly expensive. Covering your employees is one is one of the biggest cost drivers for businesses. If we can help put greater transparency into the system, if we can make sure people are healthier, therefore they’re performing better on their jobs, they’re not taking as many sick days. That’s where there are direct benefits to businesses. Ultimately, we are trying to help the work force; we are trying to help businesses address a big cost driver.”
*Courtesy of AdvocacyDenver.org
Town Hall: Sat, 5/4, 10:00 -11:30AM, Old Town Library; 201 Peterson St, FC; Join me, Reps. Fischer and Ginal for our final town hall meeting of the session. We will provide legislative wrap-ups, respond to your questions and concerns and engage with you in a community dialogue on the issues at hand. (Wheelchair accessible)
"Be Prepared", Saturday, May 11th, 9AM-12PM, at Ward Mountain Ranch, 4985 Stove Prairie Rd., Bellvue 80512, is a community event to help people be better prepared to reduce the damage to their property and to increase the odds that their homes can be saved during the upcoming wildfire and flood seasons in the High Park Fire burn area. You may RSVP and get more information on their website: http://www.treefarmer.com/beprepared.html
My bills signed into law so far:
HB-1015: Disclose mental health claims information by small group health plans for All-Payer Claims Database (3/15)
HB-1041: Procedures for transmission of public records under the "Colorado Open Records Act" (3/8)
HB-1055: Reducing inefficiency in the eligibility redetermination process for the Colorado Works Program. (3/8)
HB-1062: Increased regulation of public insurance adjusters by the Commissioner of Insurance (3/22)
HB-1072: Crime insurance coverage for public trustees in lieu of surety bonds (3/8)
HB-1199: Clarifications to the statute governing provider fees paid by nursing facilities (3/22)
SB13-046: Concerning Outpatient Kidney Dialysis Treatment for Acute Kidney Failure Patients (3/22)
My other bills:
HB-1091: Alternative air quality testing for heavy-duty diesel vehicles; sent to Governor
HB-1138: Authorize benefit corporations; Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee
HB-1151: Sales & Use Tax Holiday for Higher Ed Textbooks; House Finance Committee (Lost 2/21)
HB-1202: Counseling by Medicaid providers relating to medical orders for scope of treatment; enroll into Act, 4/3
HB-1225: Homeowner’s insurance Reform Act; Senate Local Government Committee (LO 4/2 for 4/9 action)
HB-1273: New Funding for Local Governments, Oil & Gas Development Impacts; House Health & Environment Committee
SB-001: Colorado Working Families Economy Opportunity Act; Senate State, Veterans& Military Affairs (passed 5-0, 4/3)
SB-004: Electronic Renewal Senior Identification Card; House Appropriations Committee
SB-124: Requirements Of Insurance Intermediaries; Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee
SB-148: Colorado Youth Advisory Council; Senate Appropriations Committee, 4/5
SB-149: All-Payer Health Claims Database Committee; enroll into Act, 4/3
HJR-014: Peace Corps Anniversary, enroll into Act
SJR-004: Civility & Respect in the General Assembly, enroll into Act
SJR-013: CSU Founders Day, enroll into Act
SJR-015; Human Trafficking Awareness, enroll into Act
Thank you all for your support during this legislative session!
A few kind words from my friends and The Coloradoan:
"Kefalas has shown time and time again that he has Fort Collins’ best interests at heart. His experience with the state budgeting process, his desire to help create jobs and advance our economic recovery, and genuine heart with which he leads helps ensure a future where we’re not just surviving, but growing."
"It has been an honor serving Fort Collins as your State Senator for the past eight years, and I am pleased that Rep. John Kefalas is running to replace me. No one in the state legislature works harder than John to represent his constituents, build consensus, and craft solutions to the problems we face together.
I know John will be a great State Senator for Fort Collins, and I hope you will support him as enthusiastically as I do."
Senator Bob Bacon, Senate District 14
“I have known John Kefalas for many years as a compassionate and determined advocate for people and the environment in Fort Collins and statewide. Having served with John for 6 years in the House of Representatives, I can say without hesitation that he is one of the hardest working, most effective members of the General Assembly. He is not afraid to reach his hand across partisan divides to get things done for his constituents. I have been privileged to serve alongside John in the House and wholeheartedly endorse his efforts to become Fort Collins’ next state Senator.”
Representative Randy Fischer, House District 53
Elected and Former Elected Officials:
Former State Senator Peggy Reeves
Former State Senator Moe Keller
PSD School Board Member Nancy Tellez (District F)
Organizations That Have Endorsed John:
Colorado Conservation Voters
Colorado Progressive Majority
NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado
Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado
American Dream Fund
Colorado Education Association
American Federation of Teachers Colorado
Poudre Education Association
Colorado Association of School Executives
AFSCME Council 76
UFCW Local 7
United Transportation Union
IBEW Colorado State Conference of Electrical Workers
Colorado Pipefitters local 208
Colorado Professional Fire Fighters
Colorado Fraternal Order of Police
Colorado Nurses Association
Colorado Medical Society
Colorado Dental Association
Colorado Physicians for Mental Health
Colorado Chiropractic Association
Colorado Housing Champions
American Subcontractors Association Colorado
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
Voters for Animals
On the Issues: Advancing the Common Good
Work Hard, Be Honest, Serve Others.
Economy: Working Together to Create Jobs
Our Fort Collins community, our state of Colorado and America all prosper when we have a strong middle class earning a decent wage – enough to raise a family and have financial security. As a long time advocate for working families and people on low and fixed-incomes, I am committed to building a resilient and sustainable economy that works for all of us.
In the state legislature, I have focused on creating jobs, rebuilding and maintaining our infrastructure, promoting clean, renewable energy, and manufacturing durable goods here in Colorado. I have voted to invest in our schools and to reduce taxes for small businesses to spur job growth. I have pushed to restore the Colorado Earned Income Tax Credit to reduce taxes for working families and the Colorado Innovation Investment Tax Credit to incentivize entrepreneurship and innovation. I have advanced economic opportunity and poverty reduction. In the 2012 legislative session, I promoted the “Hire Colorado Act,” which gives preference in state contracting to companies who hire at least 90% of their employees in Colorado. I will continue to advance these priorities.
Education: Investing in Learning and Protecting Children
Education is the key to expanding economic opportunity and development. Investing in our children today will prepare them for the future. I favor aligning curriculum standards to meet the needs of a changing work force. We must provide teachers with the resources and training to empower them in preparing students to meet the demands of a high-tech global economy.
In the state legislature, I have supported the BEST bill to rebuild crumbling schools, protected funding for higher education and needs-based financial aid, and invested in expanded preschools and all-day kindergartens. I have worked hard to restore and enhance funding for our schools and colleges. I want to ensure that children have a variety of options and opportunities beyond high school, including the trades and public service.
Investing up front in quality and accessible education and training from early childhood through post secondary is one of the smartest things we can do to build a capable and resilient work force and a more informed and engaged citizenry.
It is also important that we protect and support children that are at risk of abuse and neglect and to that end I’ve passed laws that improve our child welfare, child support and foster care systems. I will continue to advance best practices to make sure kids are safe and able to do well.
Health Care: Lowering Costs, Improving Health and Access to All
There’s no more basic human need than the need for good health. Quality, affordable health care that is accessible to everyone is common sense, and I will continue to work hard for a universal health care system that is high-performing. Doctors and other medical providers, through patient-centered health homes and coordinated care, are the ones to guide our health care decisions with us at the helm making informed decisions and with a focus on primary care, prevention and healthy living.
While working towards comprehensive changes to our health care finance and delivery systems, such as the Colorado Guaranteed Health Care Act, I have supported important legislative steps to increase access, improve quality, and lower costs to individuals, families and businesses.
In the state legislature, I have worked to increase accountability and transparency for insurance companies, expand eligibility for public health insurance programs, and make sure children eligible for programs like CHP+ and Medicaid are signed up. I have also passed laws that improve the quality of kidney dialysis; provide data and analysis on best practices, utilization and costs; require insurance policies to be written so we can understand them and more if you are interested to know.
Environment and Energy: Creating Jobs
While meeting the increasing energy demands of our nation, we must ensure our water and air quality are not adversely impacted, whether from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas or coal-burning power plants. Colorado is blessed with abundant wind, solar and other renewable energy resources and can lead the nation with a sustainable energy economy. We can build a better energy future and create thousands of good-paying jobs through increased efficiency, conservation and development of clean and sustainable energy alternatives.
I support smart growth and transit-oriented development, conservation of open spaces and protection of our rivers and forests.
I helped pass a landmark law to make in-situ leach uranium mining operations more transparent and accountable to protect our critical groundwater and public health. I passed laws to increase energy efficiency standards for state and local governments. have supported renewable energy tax credits, and holding companies accountable to reasonable environmental standards. I’ve received 100% rating from the Colorado Conservation Voters during my service in the State House.
Effective Representative Government: Listening and Building Bridges
Our government works much better when we the people get involved. Civic engagement makes our government and public sector more effective. We all want our tax dollars spent wisely in ways that are efficient, competent, accountable and responsive. Public policy is a reflection of the values of those who participate, and we need to open up the system so more people can are informed and engaged.
During my time in office, I have held monthly town hall meetings, issues forums, and community conversations on a regular basis to involve the people of Fort Collins in self-governance. I’m always available to hear your thoughts and concerns, and I do my best to take your ideas right back to the State Capitol. I listen and I hear you loud and clear: we must move beyond partisan politics and focus on common sense solutions for our community, our state and our country.
Call me at 720-254-7598 (c), e-mail me at email@example.com, or write me at 604 Sycamore Street, Fort Collins CO 80521. Thank you.
State Senator John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins) represents Senate District 14.Sen. John Kefalas has served three terms as the state representative of House district 52. Currently serving his first term representing District 14 in the Colorado Senate, Senator Kefalas is a member of the Health and Human Services Committee and Vice-Chair of the Local Government Committee.
A committed citizen legislator, Sen. Kefalas strongly believes in creating opportunities for meaningful civic engagement and deliberative democracy. He has conducted almost weekly town hall meetings, issues forums and community conversations since being first elected to public office.
Sen. Kefalas has championed bringing people together around common sense solutions to help middle-class and lower-income Coloradans. He has won numerous awards for his legislative efforts, while passing bills to help create jobs; reduce taxes for working Coloradans and small businesses; protect consumers, seniors and children; promote renewable energy and efficiency; advance quality education; and lower costs while increasing value in our health care system.
His most significant legislative achievements in the past two years include the Colorado Innovation Investment Tax Credit to encourage “angel” investment in start-up companies that create new Colorado jobs, restoring the Colorado Earned Income Tax Credit as the first TABOR refund mechanism to lower taxes for working families, and the Plain Language Insurance Bill, which requires new automobile, health, dental and long-term care insurance policies to be written in plain English understandable to average consumers.
A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, former educator, health outreach worker and job-training counselor, Sen. Kefalas was first elected to the Statehouse in 2006 and quickly proved himself a hard-working, honest and accessible representative. In 2008, he received a record number of votes in House District 52, becoming the first Democrat re-elected in the district in over half a century. Kefalas won his third term in office in 2010 when he received about 57% of the vote. In 2012, Kefalas was elected by a wide margin of 58% to 36% with the remainder of the vote going to third-party candidates.
Sen. Kefalas is a member of the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force, focused on building a fair and sustainable economy through expanding economic opportunity and cutting poverty in half by 2019. He is also a member of the Behavioral Health Transformation Council, and serves on the board of Embrace Northern Colorado, a non-profit organization that facilitates a regional quality of life visioning process. In the past, Sen. Kefalas has served on numerous community boards and has been involved in local, national and international peace, justice and environmental work for over 35 years. A 1978 graduate of Colorado State University (CSU), Sen. Kefalas has a Masters of Art in Teaching from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He worked with Catholic Charities as a public policy advocate and community development coordinator for seven years.
Sen. Kefalas has been married for 31 years to Beth, who works as the Music and Worship Assistant at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Collins. They have two sons and three grandchildren. His younger son, Tim, graduated from CSU in 2008, and he lives and works in Fort Collins and coaches the CSU Ultimate Team. Harlan is a married father in the US Army who has served in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan and is currently a Sergeant First Class at Fort Leonard Wood Army Base in MO. His wife is Tracey and their three children are Lillie, Barbara and John.
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