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. 

A Conversation with the Honorable Kathleen Sebelius

Jun 27, 2014

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?

Jun 26, 2014

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

Jun 25, 2014

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

Jun 25, 2014

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

Colorado's "Right to Try" Law: A Lifeline or False Hope?

Colorado’s new “right-to-try” law, signed in May, allows terminally ill patients access to investigational drugs without federal approval. Similar legislation is being considered in other states. Supporters call it a ray of hope for people with few alternatives, while skeptics argue that the hopes could be false and the suffering worsened. The US Food and Drug Administration already has compassionate-use mechanisms in place, but action at the state level is a first. What are the clinical and ethical implications of Colorado’s action? Are states usurping federal authority? What are the rights of dying people here?

Elliot Gerson, Joe Garcia, Diane E. Meier

Mountain Edition - May 22nd, 2014

May 22, 2014

Residents in the Roaring Fork Valley have been the target of recent scams. We’ll have the latest.

Will tourists flock to mountain communities this summer? One resort analyst thinks so.

And, fire season is already underway in the Western U.S. Fire officials tell Roaring Fork Valley residents now is the time to get ready.

A former director of the Colorado State Lottery is entering the race for Congress...but, he’ll need more than just a scratch ticket to win the job in Washington.

Aspen Valley Hospital is in the middle of its switch from paper files to electronic patient records.

Finally, Governor Hickenlooper made law a pair of measures this week that tighten rules around marijuana.

That’s all coming up on Mountain Edition... right now.

Marci Krivonen

While hospitals across the country work to transition from old-fashioned paper records to electronic data, some doctors in Aspen have already “gone digital.” Aspen Valley Hospital is in the middle of this conversion, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Mountain Family Health Centers

Last month, several people raced to sign up for health insurance before the March 31st deadline. Many of those patients qualified for the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program. Turns out, more people signed up for Medicaid than for private insurance in the tri-county area that includes Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle Counties. Now, doctor’s offices that handle these patients are trying to keep up. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

Creative Commons/Flickr/401(K) 2012

Pitkin County staff and elected leaders will meet with the State’s top insurance official this week about pricey health insurance. A Kaiser Health News report says Colorado’s “rating area eleven” that covers Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield and Summit Counties, is the most expensive insurance market in the country. Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock says they’d like to see solutions.


With about five weeks left in Colorado’s legislative session, lawmakers are going over the budget, looking into fighting wildfires and voting on internet access for rural areas. State Senator Gail Schwartz is involved with these efforts. She’s a democrat from Snowmass Village and Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen sat down with her on Sunday. Here is their entire conversation.


The deadline for most Coloradans to get health insurance in 2014 is less than two weeks away and, efforts to get people covered is ramping up. Connect for Health Colorado will hold events in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Rifle over the next two weeks. 

Officials with the state-run health insurance exchange says 100,000 people have already purchased plans on their website and they expect a surge of interest as the deadline gets closer.

Creative Commons/Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller/U.S. Army

The Affordable Care Act is helping low income residents in the Roaring Fork Valley get health insurance. That’s according to officials who oversee programs for the poor. More people are signing up for Medicaid and others are purchasing insurance plans from the state exchange. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

In Pitkin County, the number of Medicaid patients jumped 20 percent since October. So, 90 more people are seeking care from doctors who will take them.

Mountain Edition - January 30th, 2014

Jan 30, 2014

With just eight days until the Olympics start in Sochi...the Aspen community sends off four local athletes who will compete.

Health care prices in the Valley have been rising for years. Now, a handful of local employers are trying to improve worker’s health--and bring down costs.

Basalt’s setting a path for its future...in a non-traditional way. It’s using a method called “crowd-sourcing” to gather input on urban planning.

A new group in Aspen wants to make it easier for young people to stay in Aspen. City council approved the Next Generation Advisory Commission this week.

And, as Colorado’s population grows, the state’s water supply can’t keep up. A Basalt organization is involved in a statewide water plan.

Terrain parks are ubiquitous at ski resorts around the country. Now, there’s an effort to make them safer.

Finally, Aspen’s Torin Yater-Wallace is heading to the Olympics. The freeskier is recovering from injuries...but, says he’s ready to compete.

Dr. Robert Eckel served on the panel which issued new guidelines on heart health and spoke at The Aspen Meadows last weekend. The evening was moderated by Dr. Ann Mass.