Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs’ Sue Birch has been confirmed by the state Senate as the new executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. The Senate vote was 32-0-3.
Birch, who served as the CEO of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association since 1994, now can focus solely on a department with an annual budget of more than $4.5 billion and nearly 300 employees. Health care policy and finance involves some of the largest portions of the state’s ailing budget, which totals more than $18 billion and faces a revenue shortfall estimated at $715 million.
The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing administers the Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus programs as well as a variety of other programs for low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities.
Birch has said she plans to keep Steamboat Springs as her permanent address.
To fill her void, the VNA named Lisa Brown its acting CEO until a full-time replacement is found. Brown is the VNA’s chief fundraiser.
The last couple of months have represented a quick transition from director of a regional health care association to head of a major state department. It began in November, when Birch was named one of 16 statewide co-chairs for Gov. John Hickenlooper’s transition effort. She temporarily served as co-chairwoman of a health care policy and finance committee, which addressed state policies involving Medicaid and children’s health care. Birch and Hickenlooper have known each other for several years.
“Sue Birch has made herself an expert on how to provide medical care in rural areas with limited budgets,” Hickenlooper said in December. “Her regional and collaborative approach will serve well to address health care issues on a statewide basis.”
— To reach Brent Boyer, call 970-871-4221 or e-mail bboyer@SteamboatToday.com