The Home Front: A $43M Medicaid mistake in Colorado, and a potential fix for transportation

“A ‘system error’ at the state Medicaid department could leave Colorado taxpayers on the hook to repay the federal government as much as $43 million, an unexpected expense that state officials are scrambling to reconcile,” reports The Denver Post. “The department’s computer system ‘erroneously categorized’ some services as eligible for more federal funds than they were, according to a memo sent Wednesday to lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee from a committee staffer. The state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which oversees Medicaid government health insurance for the needy and disabled, estimated the federal payback would total anywhere from $21.8 million to $43.4 million. The department is fixing the system error for Medicaid claims beginning this month, but the problem dates back to July 2015. ‘This should have been caught,’ said state Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, who chairs the JBC. ‘The fact is, it wasn’t.'”

“A telephone town hall hosted by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton Wednesday night lacked any of the anger and wrath exhibited in physical meetings over the past month, but touched on many subjects of the crowded political conversation,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “Tipton, a Republican representing the 3rd Congressional District, was in Germany at the beginning of the most recent congressional recess, and his staffers have promised in-person meetings with constituents maybe as soon as April. Several questions were asked Tuesday about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, after the recently retired president. Tipton and most Republicans have been keen critics of the act and have introduced legislation of their own, which Tipton said was still in the markup, or renovation, stage.”

“A little more than a year after a Greeley masseuse was found not guilty of prostitution and keeping a place of prostitution, she is set to receive a $150,000 settlement from the city of Greeley,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Ping Wang was arrested on suspicion of prostitution and running a place of prostitution out of her massage business in February 2015. A jury found her not guilty of those charges a year later. Two months later, she filed a case in civil court, in which she claimed Greeley Police Detective Jared Weeks blatantly lied in the affidavit for her arrest. The Greeley City Council voted late Tuesday to pay Wang as part of a settlement agreement she reached with the city. As part of the agreement, the city of Greeley admits no fault in the case. Tribune efforts to reach Weeks for comment were not immediately successful.”

The Loveland Reporter-Herald profile historic women in Loveland as a tribute to International Women’s Day.

“A Mesa County district judge will decide whether a 14-year-old girl accused of murdering her foster mother last month should be tried as an adult in the crime, according to the juvenile magistrate who has handled her case so far,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “District Judge Lance Timbreza will preside over the next portion of the prosecution of Stephanie Hauck, the young girl who has been charged in the Feb. 13 death of 61-year-old Linda Smith. Smith, who had taken custody of the young girl only a week before being found dead by a child welfare worker paying an announced visit to her apartment at 547 29 1/2 Road, was stabbed repeatedly with a serving fork.”

“Mobile home parks, representing the old-school solution to providing workforce housing, haven’t won much attention in the current community discussion on how to close the gap between housing supply and demand in Steamboat Springs and Routt County, reports The Steamboat Pilot & Today. “Yet, there are an estimated 300-plus households currently occupying mobile home parks in Steamboat. And one can’t say local government and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority are indifferent to trailer parks. With city and county support, the authority owns and operates the Fish Creek mobile home park comprising 68 households.”

“Stand Up for Women,” reads a headline in The Cañon City Daily Record for a piece profiling local women who took part in a day of demonstration. “With a handmade sign in hand, Alexis Lee joined a small crowd to stand near one of Cañon City’s busiest intersections Wednesday morning and advocate for women. But she also knew that later that day, she would head back to work. ‘I took some time, but I’ll also work because I’m proud of my woman-owned business,’ said Lee, who owns Luxtek LLC, a software development company based in Fremont County. And as women across the country took the day off from work, she wasn’t alone.”

The Coloradoan in Fort Collins continues its look into child welfare issues in Larimer County. “Angela Keeley has been a child welfare caseworker with Larimer County for more than a year, but she still has a hard time remembering all her co-workers’ names,” the paper reports. “That’s because nearly half of the county’s 90-some child welfare caseworkers quit in 2016, a turnover rate on par with the national average but nearly four times that of Weld County caseworkers and three times the turnover rate of Boulder County caseworkers. ‘There’s people in the office across from me that I don’t know the names of,’ Keeley said, ‘and I don’t even know if I necessarily want to get to know them because they’ll probably leave in a couple of months anyway.'”

“Legislative leaders rolled out a tax plan Wednesday to pump about $677 million a year into Colorado’s ailing transportation system,” The Gazette reports. “The centerpiece for this year’s legislative session could cover everything from traffic relief to buses and bike paths. To fund it, voters in November would have to approve adding a 0.62 percent sales tax increase, on top of the existing 2.9 percent state levy. The plan also comes with lower state vehicle registration fees. Democrats in 2009 pushed higher registration fees, with the goal of generating about $200 million every year for state transportation projects. Republicans have long loathed the FASTER fees, so rolling some of it back for a larger transportation funding plan signals compromise. House Bill 1242, introduced late Wednesday afternoon, would also allow for $3.5 billion in bonding, in which voters would approve a loan for transportation funding.”

“An ordinance approved by Lafayette’s City Council aimed at banning fracking operations within it the city’s borders has left many with a bad taste in their mouth — including its most ardent proponents,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “The ordinance, which passed 4-3 on first reading, would ban fracking operations in the city even though Boulder County is facing a lawsuit over its current oil and gas moratorium. Meanwhile, the controversial direct action clause — perhaps the bill’s most provocative section — in the “Climate Bill of Rights and Protections” was removed late in the discussion. The vote’s effect has resulted in a rare agreement of displeasure from both anti-fracking activists and the Colorado oil and gas industry.”

“Durango City Council candidates outlined their views on development fees, infrastructure and homelessness, and addressed some nontraditional questions at a forum Wednesday hosted by the Durango Chamber of Commerce,” The Durango Herald reports. “Tom Eskew, Dave McHenry, Chris Bettin, Melissa Youssef and incumbent Councilor Dean Brookie are competing for three seats in the April 4 election. Mail-in ballots will go out March 18. Most of the candidates agreed the council should address Durango’s problems, such as housing and visible panhandling, but differed on strategy.”