health care

Five employers efforts to improve health care and lower insurance costs is shifting into high gear. The group, known as the Valley Health Alliance, has a new Director and was part of a forum yesterday. Details on what the Alliance may try in the next year were discussed-- and mental health will be at the top of the list.

Valley Roundup - September 26th, 2014

Sep 26, 2014

Welcome to Valley Roundup a review of the top news stories in the valley in the past week.

This week  - Vice President Joe Biden and his 44-car entourage storm in an out of Aspen.  Criticism rises in his wake.

The gig is up for the secret to free parking in Aspen.  It has been costing the city more than fifty thousand dollars a month.  The finger pointing has begun.

Also this week, we talk bears.

And, a Denver Business Journal health care reporter helps explain why insurance rates might actually be going down in the roaring Fork Valley.

Colorado Medical Society

Health insurance in the Roaring Fork Valley will be cheaper next year for some residents. The average premium will cost about seven percent less. For someone paying three hundred dollars a month, that’s about twenty dollars less for each payment. One reason for that is some doctors and hospitals are treating patients for less. And the state’s top association for physicians is worried that may have unintended consequences.

Colorado Division of Insurance

Health insurance in the Glenwood Springs area will go down by nearly ten percent next year. That’s on average, and it’s compared to an overall average increase of about one percent across Colorado. State officials gave final approval for the lower rates this week. This comes after concerns about especially high insurance in the Roaring Fork Valley, and an earlier flawed attempt to let consumers review rates beforehand. 

Spotlight: Health Closing Session – A Conversation with the Honorable Kathleen Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius was the 21st United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. She served from 2009-2014.  Sebelius resigned her post as President Obama’s head of HHS in April 2014. She was the key person involved in implementing health care reforms under the “Affordable Care Act” aka “Obamacare”. Sebelius had previously served as Governor of Kansas (2003-2009).

Kathleen Sebelius, Walter Isaacson

How Can We Die With Dignity?

The hospice movement and other cultural and system-wide innovations in palliative care have been welcome strategies for easing the dying experience, but many people still do not have their final wishes respected. If we are to guide patients and families through life’s final stage with dignity, we need to have wiser conversations, better services, and a clearer ethical framework. What is it like to be present with people as they approach death? What roles can the young and the healthy play? What investments do we need to make to smooth the passage away from the living?

Arthur Leonard Caplan, Ai-jen Poo, Akaya Windwood, Ray Suarez

Can Congress Come Together to Build a Healthier Nation?

There's much more to health politics than the Affordable Care Act. Along with remarkable new advances in medicine by 2024, we will see Baby Boomers swamping the health care system, more veterans needing services, and the impact of climate change becoming ever more apparent. Leaders from both political parties in both houses of Congress should be shaping the vision, negotiating the legislation and committing the funding to improve the nation’s health. What can Congress do to promote better health for more Americans? How can our elected officials reach consensus?

William Frist, Thomas Daschle, Julie Rovner, Mickey Edwards

Personalized Medicine: The Future is Now

Personalized medicine is upending hierarchies with consumer products like Scanadu, designed to track physiological signals, and 23andMe.com, which provides raw genetic data. Meanwhile, our exploding knowledge means treatments can increasingly be custom-tailored — the genetic characteristics of a tumor can predict the most effective drug to fight it; a medical image can reveal which artery-opening device will be most effective for a particular individual. How does personalized medicine change the way medicine is practiced? Is it possible to know too much? Does the US need a new regulatory framework for this unprecedented era?

Women’s Health: The Unfinished Revolution

The phrase “women’s health” slips off the tongues of clinicians, public health experts, community advocates and legislators with ease, but the ideological battles of the past three decades have clouded this once-useful term. Reproductive health services and access to family planning promote health and combat poverty, but they do not represent the sum of women’s health needs or rights. Women also differ from men in how they develop, age, and respond to treatment, yet the science of their unique characteristics is alarmingly incomplete. What is “women’s health” really about, and how we do re-imagine its future?

Jane Otai, Sisonke Msimang, Courtney E. Martin, Betty King

THE ASPEN LECTURE When Experts Disagree: The Art of Medical Decision-Making

Despite medical advances and the application of scientific principles to modern medicine, there seems to be increasing controversy about the “right” diagnostic and treatment choices, even for very common medical issues – such as how best to treat high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, whether to take vitamins, especially vitamin D, and who should be screened for cancer with mammograms and PSA. And the debate is very public, fomenting confusion with almost daily stories in the media. Why are experts disagreeing? Why isn't there a clear “right” answer? And what support do patients need to make decisions in the face of such controversy?

Jerome Groopman, Pamela Hartzband

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