Kim Boyce, a physician’s assistant at the Steamboat Springs Visiting Nurse Association office who also works at a private practice in Craig, said she sees 80 to 100 patients per month in Steamboat, while working just two days a week here. “Probably 98 percent of them do not have health insurance,” Boyce said Monday.

Photo by John F. Russell

Kim Boyce, a physician’s assistant at the Steamboat Springs Visiting Nurse Association office who also works at a private practice in Craig, said she sees 80 to 100 patients per month in Steamboat, while working just two days a week here. “Probably 98 percent of them do not have health insurance,” Boyce said Monday.

Health care bill elicits mixed local reaction

Medical community responds positively to health care overhaul; concerns remain

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— Members of the local medical community gave primarily positive responses Monday to the federal health care overhaul, especially citing its potential to increase coverage and access to services in rural Northwest Colorado.

But there also are concerns of increased costs to hospitals and an increase in demand for services that may be difficult to keep up with in the absence of more medical professionals.

“I’m very excited that it passed,” said Sue Birch, chief executive officer of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. “We know that access to affordable health care is an ongoing issue here in the (Yampa) Valley.”

Dr. Jim Dudley, of Steamboat Medical Group, said the overhaul could help address “huge” unmet health care needs in Routt and Moffat counties, where young adults often do not have health insurance because they are healthy and think they don’t need it, or because coverage is too expensive.

“All of a sudden they get diabetes, and they’re screwed – nobody ever covers them again,” Dudley said. “Insurance companies deny them because they’ve got a pre-existing condition.”

A blown knee on the ski slopes can cost as much as $30,000, Dudley said, a scenario that can put working people suddenly deep in debt.

“There are a lot of people like that floating around here,” he said.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed sweeping health care changes Sunday night, on a 219-212 vote with no Republicans in support. President Barack Obama is expected to sign that bill into law today. The House also sent a smaller, companion bill to the U.S. Senate. Overall, the legislation would extend health care coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans in the next decade, requiring most Americans to purchase health care or face penalties if they refuse. The bill includes subsidies for families earning as much as $88,000 per year and would end insurance practices such as the denial of coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions.

Opponents of the overhaul say it is too costly and imposes too much federal regulation. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said last week that implementing the bill would cost $940 billion within 10 years but would reduce the national deficit by a net of $138 billion in that time period.

The bill also includes a provision that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health care plan until the age of 26.

“There are 57,000 young adults in the district who could benefit from this option,” wrote the staff of U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-CO. “For individuals under age 30, the bill creates new, inexpensive policies that allow them to obtain protection from catastrophic health care costs.”

Primary care

The overhaul could bring more doctors and dollars to Routt County.

Joan Henneberry, executive director of the state’s Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, said the legislation includes “a lot of money to help (medical) work force shortages,” including incentives for physicians to live and practice in rural areas.

Salazar, who represents Routt County and the rest of Colorado’s Third Congressional District, agreed.

“In my district, and in all of rural America, finding a doctor who will take Medicare patients is becoming harder and harder,” Salazar, who voted for the overhaul package, said in a written statement Sunday night. “This bill will give all primary doctors in rural America a 10 percent increase in reimbursement to take Medicare patients.”

That funding could address a concern of Yampa Valley Medical Center chief executive Karl Gills, who said Monday that, “in general … the bill is very positive” but expressed concerns about potential costs to hospitals and noted that more people with insurance means more people seeking services. That’s a good thing, Gills said, unless “the number of doctors is not increasing at the same rate.”

Physician’s assistant Kim Boyce said she sees 80 to 100 patients a month while working just two days each week at the Steamboat VNA offices.

“About 98 percent of them do not have health insurance,” Boyce said.

She added that many of those patients ask for services Boyce cannot provide, such as primary care, because they can’t afford to see a physician. Transportation to Craig also can be a hurdle for patients, Boyce said.

“With the health care reform, these patients would have a way to be treated locally,” Boyce said.

Birch said the legislation could boost efforts to create a certified community health center in Routt County. Currently, the region’s only such health center is the Northwest Colorado Community Health Center, in the VNA building in Craig. The center provides primary care to uninsured or underinsured patients. The VNA offices in Steamboat Springs, adjacent to YVMC, provide public health programs such as immunizations and women’s health clinics, but do not offer primary care.

“With this legislation, if it goes forward as we think it will, there will probably be access-point funds to increase the number of new sites,” Birch said.

Salazar’s staff said the health care overhaul would provide $11 billion in new funding for community health centers nationwide, or potentially $45.5 million for the 35 centers in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

“We would do a lot with a million dollars,” Birch said, imagining a slice of that pie. “We would do more of expanding eligibility and enrollment. We want to make sure everybody has insurance.”

The Craig Health Center has about 2,000 clients after opening about two years ago, she said. About 200 of those clients live in Routt County. The Craig Health Center’s capacity is about 5,000 clients, she said.

“The focus is to serve the most vulnerable populations of people,” Birch said.

Spokeswoman Suzi Mariano said the Northwest Colorado VNA is assisting with a planning grant that could help bring a health center to Routt County. The VNA soon will hold public meetings on that topic, she said.

Dudley had mixed feelings Monday about the health care package.

“I personally think something needed to be done – was that the right way? I don’t know,” he said of contentious battles at the Capitol over the past year. “I think there was a little too much politics that went into it.

“I think this is a progression,” he continued. “I’m hoping this is a beginning.”

Comments

mmjPatient22 4 years, 8 months ago

For me, the closeness of the vote count in Congress is a little too reminiscent of a couple of other "close-call" votes. At least with these votes, there's no chance of Bush ending up back in some position of authority. All humor aside, what's with all the extreme partisan BS? Dems just barely squeak by with enough votes and, yet, somehow they convince themselves that what they're doing is the will of the majority of the citizens(or at least their constituents)? I'm no politician or anything but something seems a bit off here. Why is there such a "hail-Mary" effort going on to push this thing through so quickly? Is confusing health care today better than well-understood health care tomorrow? On that note, would anyone care to elaborate on the causal circumstances and possible consequences of the decision by our state's Attorney General John Suthers to enlist Colorado as one of the at least 9 states that are forming a national lawsuit to stand in the way of Obama's health care plan?

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Clearsky 4 years, 8 months ago

So now the insurance companies only have 90% of control. It's a start.

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housepoor 4 years, 8 months ago

interesting that the people in the actual health care industry, both doctors and adminstrators are somewhat positive

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 8 months ago

If there was about to be some national law passed that mandated the necessity and success of your particular industry....wouldn't you be slightly happy about it? I know that there is an inherent "job security" built into caring for people's health but this takes it to another level, doesn't it?

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seeuski 4 years, 8 months ago

People just don't understand what was just done to their freedom as Americans. Just because someone voted for Obama does not save them from the IRS, enjoy your new forced responsibility, we don't even know what we will be required to buy. So lets party like it's 2014, interesting that the date of personal IRS enforcement comes after the 2012 election, Obama the saviour.. oh great one, thank you Master.

(CNSNews.com) – The Internal Revenue Service will function as the government’s chief enforcer for health care reform, ....

"The IRS would monitor individuals and businesses’ health insurance statuses through the mandatory reporting the bill requires. Under the law, every individual and most businesses are required to report to the IRS, on their tax returns, whether they have purchased or provided the required level of coverage and disclose to the IRS which months, if any, in which they failed to do so.

Using this information, the IRS would then determine whether an employer or individual falls under the mandate, which contains exceptions for religious conscience, hardship, incarcerated persons, and members of Indian tribes. (I am applying to local Ute tribe)

If either an individual or a business has failed to comply with this mandate for any month out of the year, they are required to pay a separate tax to the IRS. For individuals this is a maximum of $750 per person (up to $2,250 per household) and $750 per uncovered employee for businesses."

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seeuski 4 years, 8 months ago

Back in the US, back in the USSR.

Another song comes to mind with the lyrics.... "Tax the rich feed the poor till their are no rich no more"

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually, run out of other people’s money.”

  • Margaret Thatcher
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freerider 4 years, 8 months ago

RON PAUL SAYS

AUDIT THE FED

DISMANTLE THE IRS

STOP ALL WARS

IRAQ , AFGANISTAN DRUG WAR

RON PAUL 2012

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freerider 4 years, 8 months ago

So this health care package is 2700 pages long ....I wonder if anybody actually read it..??

I know the Republicans are using it as toilet paper

And I'm guessing the Democrats that voted for it didn't read it either Probably just put their vote up for sale and it went to the highest bidder

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runnerbikerdriver44 4 years, 8 months ago

freerider-It's really funny that you mention reading the bill. I have tried to read it 3 times, and each time, my computer freezes and crashes because it's such a huge file! Didn't someone say once it was passed we'd finally know what was in it? What really upset me yesterday was to hear that after the bill passed, the stock market ended on a high note... due to the increase of purchased stocks in the health care section. Amazing...

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 8 months ago

I guess the health care industry is the new favorite place to get your stock.... ....if you can afford stuff like that.

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ybul 4 years, 8 months ago

Wow, For individuals this is a maximum of $750 per person (up to $2,250 per household) and $750 per uncovered employee for businesses."

The individual penalty is almost more than my quarterly payment for my family of three. Wow, guess my premiums are going through the roof next year.

Nice that we all get to pay for the lifestyle diseases of others.

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 8 months ago

This was a great day for slackers and is an embarrasing time to be an American. Obama's presidency was on the line and Bin Ladin could have gotten a pardon if that was what it took. The lawyers skated thruogh unschathed and now will be in for decades of litigation on this bill in addition. It is also nice for the administration to give them a broadside shot at Toyoto and billions in class action lawsuits. Obama can kill two birds with one stone here, reward the lawyers and protect Obama/union motors. A great day to be an American.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm still waiting for my own personal bail-out.

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Kevin Nerney 4 years, 8 months ago

How many hours will an employee have to work before the boss has to pay for that employees' health coverage? Sounds to me that all full time employees will have their hours cut to part time and the employers' will hire more part- timers. In other words 2 people to do the work of one. Solves the unemployment problem but no one will be making any money. How about other health care issues. This medical marjiuna thing, is Uncle Sam going to start supplying pot to everyone. Other perscriptions, generic or namebrand? There's money to be made in pharmacuticals. Are eyeglasses and dental included? How about elective surgery? Facelifts, liposuction, laser eye surgery?

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 8 months ago

Before Big Brother starts doling out any large amounts of marijuana, they'll have to re-classify its status as a controlled substance. Otherwise, they'd be distributing Schedule 1 Narcotics. And besides, there's no need for our Uncle to start growing and distributing colossal amounts of cannabis. All that we have to do as a people is say that it's okay for people to grow it for their own use or go to someone else that grows it for them. Now, in order to keep a hold of the reigns on the youth issue, we're going to have to regulate it something like what California is voting on later this year.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 8 months ago

By the way, for those that didn't already know, our government already grows and distributes FREE marijuana to a very limited number of people for their personal, daily use.

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stillinsteamboat 4 years, 8 months ago

Why don't you conservatives take up a new cause, how about you address all the "patriotic Americans" who are screwing all of us by hiring illegal immigrants in their restaurants and especially ranches. I see a: "HOWS THAT OBAMA THING WORKING FOR YOU"? sign on a guys ranch who hires numerous illegals. How come nobody is screaming about that. Guess who pays for the illegals' healthcare and that of their children, wives , cousins, aunts, uncles, .....We all pay for these patriotic americans to hire their cheap labor. Let's discuss this problem, I think undocumented workers are breaking the back of this country.

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the_Lizard 4 years, 8 months ago

I paid my health care premium today. Tacked on was an extra 2-3 dollars, which is added monthly, to cover people that have pre-existing conditions. IOW people with pre-existing conditions and can't get insurance, do have some coverage here in CO. Wonder how that will be effected now that we have Obama-care.

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skidattle 4 years, 8 months ago

BREAKING NEWS: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, Fox reports health care overhaul will be paid for from those Iraq oil revenues promised to us in 2001. Reports of masses of pearly white(put your sunglasses on) Tea Partiers are emerging from caves they've been living in for the past 9 years proclaiming; "What would Jesus Do?"

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ride4fun 4 years, 8 months ago

The net of this reform is higher taxes and insurance premiums. Unfortunately the package does nothing to address the underlying problem of annual double digit increases in health care costs.

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kathy foos 4 years, 8 months ago

still in steamboat,I agree with your point about the people that hire the illegals and expect our government to pay for the many children that they immediatly have,why cant they hire us americans?This town is worst than most with the ski area ,my relatives in another state dont see them there and they dont take their childrens jobs in that community.I guess no one cares if their children have a future here in this valley when they get out into the world.Oh yeah the illegals are marching in Washington,can we march in mexico to stop them from taking over our government,I doubt it.Im sure to be considered a bigot for trying to protect our country by saying "just get out of our country,now!You people that want to hire the mexicans ,go to mexico to run your business.We wont subsidize your personal choice of foreign workers any more.Ice do your job and get rid of them.

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mmjPatient22 4 years, 8 months ago

I almost put forth the effort to make a joke about this that tied it in with health care but after careful consideration it was decided that the video is sufficiently comical all by itself.

If I was Bill, I would have given him a swirly later that night.

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