Welcome to Valley Roundup. I’m Carolyn Sackariason.

A large turnaround lane is planned to be built on Highway 82 so semi trucks won’t go over Independence Pass. Some people are skeptical.

CDOT, county to alter 82 near pass

Truck turnaround proposed at base of Indy Pass

And a Rifle-based journalist gets hazed about his column that takes a shot at Aspen.

The amount of health insurance options on the Western Slope is dwindling. Joining News Director Carolyn Sackariason on Valley Roundup are Curtis Wackerle, editor at the Aspen Daily News, Roger Marolt, columnist for the Aspen Times, and Ryan Hoffman, editor of the Rifle Citizen Telegram.

You can hear more of the conversation  on Valley Roundup at 3:30 p.m. today on Aspen Public Radio news.


Elise Thatcher

Hundreds of area residents attended a health insurance forum in Basalt on Thursday night. The last-minute event was coordinated by the Basalt Chamber of Commerce, after thousands of locals found out this fall that their coverage will end in January. State Senator Kerry Donovan, the state’s health exchange, and the Colorado Division of Insurance participated.


Elise Thatcher

Pitkin, Eagle, and Garfield counties are lagging behind when it comes to helping more people get health insurance. A recent review shows residents in the Roaring Fork Valley are more likely to not have coverage, compared to the statewide average. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher sat down with Michele Lueck, President and CEO of the Colorado Health Institute in Denver. Lueck’s organization analyzed the data.


  It’s getting into tax season, and this is the first time residents will have to pay a fine if they didn’t have health insurance in 2014. That’ll be true for 2015 taxes as well, if someone can’t prove they have health insurance this year. For those signing up for health coverage through the statewide online exchange, counties in the Roaring Fork Valley worked together to get as many people signed on as possible. 

Your Evening News - December 15th, 2014

Dec 15, 2014

ACS Gets High Marks in State Rankings

The Aspen Community School is one of the top-ranked schools in the state according to a new analysis. The school near Woody Creek ranked 6th out of 500 middle schools. The organization Colorado School Grades releases its report card annually on nearly 2,000 public schools. The group uses data from the Colorado Department of Education and a formula developed at the University of Colorado Denver to come up with its rankings. The formula looks at a school’s academic achievement, academic growth and gaps in education. In 2014, the Aspen Community charter School received an “A-plus” for grades six through eight. Other schools in the Roaring Fork Valley received grades. The Aspen High School scored a “B-plus” and Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale received a “C,” as did Glenwood Springs High School. Bridges High School in Carbondale was one of the lowest scoring high schools in the state. A link for the full list can be found here.

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. 

Elise Thatcher

If you have health insurance, you can now look up how much it might cost you next year. Colorado's insurance office has posted all rate changes for the coming year, to make sure residents know whether their premiums are going up--and why. But actually finding that information can take hours, and may not turn up results at all. 

Screenshot from aspeninstitute.org. July 24th, 2014.

A handful of Republican governors spoke on a panel at the Aspen Institute last night to a packed house. That included New Jersey governor and 2016 presidential hopeful Chris Christie. Improving government was the top theme of the night--- and some trash talk about the Democratic Party.

Mountain Edition - June 19th, 2014

Jun 19, 2014

Good afternoon and welcome to Mountain Edition.

There were surprising new developments this week in an Aspen murder case. We’ll have the latest.

The Pitkin County Commissioners approve a stop-gap measure to prevent mega events in environmentally sensitive areas. A huge wedding on the back of Aspen mountain prompted the move.

In Aspen Governor Hickenlooper apologizes to law enforcement for mistakes made with the state’s new gun laws.

Several sheriffs in Aspen for a conference are concerned about legal marijuana.

And, employers are figuring out pot and drug policies for workers.

Finally, we check in with newly insured locals who purchased health insurance plans through the state exchange.

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


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.

Pitkin County Sees Spike in Medicaid Enrollees

Feb 26, 2014
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.

Mountain Edition - January 2nd, 2014

Jan 2, 2014

Colorado made history this week when retail marijuana stores around the state opened for business. People traveled across the country to stand in line at several Denver-area businesses.

Here in the Roaring Fork Valley, retail pot shops will open later this year. In the meantime, law enforcement is getting ready.

Aspen resident and Nordic skier Simi Hamilton also made history-- but in a totally different field. He’s the first American male to win a World Cup stage race. The win gets him closer to the Olympics.

Paying for health insurance is really expensive in the Roaring Fork Valley compared to most other places in Colorado. Now, Governor Hickenlooper says he may get involved in lowering premiums.

Garfield County believes the state did a bad job setting up the prices for those premiums. But some experts say insurance officials didn’t break the rules. We’ll hear from one expert who’s asking why medical care is so high in the Valley and other resort communities.

Finally, sometimes the the road to Sochi is especially difficult. Ski racer Wiley Maple’s efforts were cut short after an old injury flared up.

Explainer - Colorado Health Exchange

Oct 8, 2013

If you thought the debate over health care reform was complicated to follow the shopping experience for health insurance may be equally hard to understand.  First of all the prices people will encounter vary.  Aspen Public Radio's Roger Adams went shopping for policies on the Colorado Health Exchange - Connect For Health Colorado.

Mountain Edition - October 3rd, 2013

Oct 3, 2013

It’s been a big news week and one story with big impacts locally is the federal government shutdown. We take a look at what it means for the Roaring Fork Valley.

Obamacare hit the internet on Tuesday, turns out, health care plans coordinated by Colorado are way more expensive in mountain towns.

After massive floods walloped oil and gas operations, we hear ideas about making sure oil and gas operations are better protected down the road.

Local officials had to decide by Tuesday whether to take steps to allow retail marijuana in the Roaring Fork Valley. Many have decided to delay their verdict.

We get an update from one of the ten Aspen-area athletes hoping to compete in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia.

And finally, tamales are a humble Latin American dish with deep, historical roots. They’re the main fare at an upcoming Roaring Fork Valley event.

Interactive: How Much Will "Obamacare" Cost You?

Sep 25, 2013

Would like to know how the Affordable Care Act aka "Obamacare" is going to affect your health care? Check out this calculator from NPR and the Kaiser Family Foundation:

Got a Question on Health Care Reform? Ask a "Navigator"

Jun 17, 2013
Flickr/Katy Warner

The bulk of the federal Affordable Care Act takes effect next year and local governments are preparing. The tri-county region that includes the Roaring Fork Valley picked up a grant that will help people navigate the new health care options. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Colorado Rolls Out Obamacare

May 22, 2013
Roger Adams

This story has been updated at 3:00 PM 5/22/13: scroll down to the end for the latest information.

Later today (Wednesday 5/22/13) the Colorado Division of Insurance will release the list of health insurance companies that want to be part of Colorado’s health exchange.  So far 19 companies have applied to be included.  The exchange is mandated by the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, that was signed into law three years ago.  The act requires that everyone have health insurance starting January first of next year.  The health insurance law survived a Supreme Court challenge and Republican efforts to repeal it. Now, it’s coming into force. Over the next several months we will be reporting on how the new law will affect you. We begin with an explanation of the health care exchange.  Aspen Public Radio’s Roger Adams reports.