The Home Front: Colorado’s largest health insurer lost $65 million to ‘skyrocketing hospital prices,’ it says

Your morning roundup of stories from the front pages of newspapers across Colorado

“Kaiser Permanente Colorado, the largest insurer in the state, says skyrocketing hospital prices are the main reason it has recorded losses of $65 million in the last three years, forcing a top-to-bottom review of operations that will herald a more confrontational approach with hospitals,” reports The Denver Post. “Ron Vance, Kaiser’s new president of its Colorado operations, did not rule out filing antitrust lawsuits against those Colorado hospitals he contends have ‘refused to enter into reasonable contracts’ with Kaiser.”

“A 13-year-old Colorado Springs-area middle schooler, who reportedly was arrested recently for allegedly sexually harassing and assaulting female classmates, has become a cause célèbre among far-right media that claim the #metoo movement has gone too far,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “One of the girls has obtained a temporary restraining order against the boy, whose family has raised nearly $20,000 since posting an online appeal for donations for a defense fund for their son. The boy’s father claims his son, who is white, was arrested after “he made a girl mad on Snapchat” by using a black cartoon character as his Bitmoji, a picture that represents a character. Dennis Bailey Jr. contacted the editor of a website run by former Brietbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos to publicize what he says in his online appeal for donations are false accusations as a way of getting revenge against his son.”

“When Bill Hughes shows up to Windsor’s art therapy classes twice per month at Columbine Commons Assisted Living Center, it’s usually because Kay Amaya brought him along with her,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “Both residents of the center have attended every art therapy class since they were started in June 2017, learning art techniques ranging from repoussé, a metalworking technique, to making temporary henna tattoos.”

“Hundreds of marijuana plants were seized and two people were arrested last week at a Parachute address, as part of a wider investigation that has resulted in the arrests of multiple Chinese nationals throughout Colorado in the past year,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

“The St. Vrain Valley School District recently sold its second and last round of bonds from its $260 million capital construction bond issue,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “The bond issue, approved by voters in 2016, is paying for both new buildings and additions and improvements to existing schools. St. Vrain sold $60.34 million in bonds with a repayment period of five years instead of the originally planned 14-year schedule, saving taxpayers more than $12 million in interest, said Greg Fieth, chief financial officer.”

“Coming by 2028: Colorado State University-Pueblo as ‘The People’s University of the Southwest United States,'” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “‘This bold new vision, which honors Pueblo’s reputation as ‘The People’s Town,’ will reposition the university as a regional comprehensive university that is accessible and affordable for all who wish to attend.”

“‘We are a community that takes care of our own problems,’ Family & Intercultural Resource Center director Tamara Drangstveit said to the audience at a candidate and issue forum in Frisco last week,” reports Summit Daily. “We are not a community that stands by and does nothing when an 11-year-old girl commits suicide, like last spring.’ While the specific details of the tragedy are never likely to be known to the public, a child committing suicide should shock even the most stoic Summit resident. The child’s death was a stark reminder that the county has big cracks in its behavioral health system that too many people are falling through.”

“About 175 people gathered in The Steamboat Grand for an election forum on state and local ballot measures,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “People representing those in favor of and opposed to measures spoke about why — or why not — Routt County voters should approve each measure.”

“Loveland City Manager Steve Adams received a 2.5 percent merit raise from the City Council on Tuesday night following a confidential performance review,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “He will now be making about $196,000 per year, which is less than the managers of several neighboring cities are making. City Councilors approved the raise Tuesday without comment. Adams’ salary has grown annually since the council appointed him city manager from his position as director of the Water and Power Department in 2016, according to salary records obtained from the city of Loveland via a Colorado Open Records Act request.”

“Colorado hospitals hiked prices by 76 percent over a seven-year stretch as they pushed their profits to among the largest in the nation and built more aggressively than hospitals in all but one other state, according to data the state plans to use to change spending priorities,” reports The Denver Post on the front page of today’s Vail Daily. “Along the way, hospitals doubled their administrative costs from 2009 through 2016 and contributed to residents in the state’s mountainous west region paying the highest insurance rates in the nation, according to the information collected for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.”

“The Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship will be allowed to keep offering lockers to people who are homeless — but they can’t be accessible 24 hours a day, and they’ll need supervision,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins.

“Republican Walker Stapleton received a ‘complete and total’ endorsement early Wednesday from President Donald Trump in his run for Colorado governor,” reports The Denver Post on the front page of The Cañon City Daily Record. “Trump tweeted his support for Stapleton, the two-term state treasurer who’s competing against Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, and the endorsement comes as Stapleton has expressed measured support for Trump. He has touted Trump’s tax cuts and some other policies, while criticizing the Republican president for implementing new tariffs and proposing other actions that Stapleton said would hurt Colorado.”

“More than 3,800 people stream through downtown Boulder’s bus station on a typical weekday, taking an average of 1,200 bus trips in and out of town — more bus trips than at Denver’s Union Station, which also is a hub for light rail,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Buses sit for a combined 60.9 hours a day, about 7.9 minutes at the Boulder station. Some of that time is spent sitting at gates, loading and unloading passengers, or else waiting for scheduled departure. Not all the buses are so purposeful in their parking: Some are just waiting for a spot to open up.”

“The few dozen paper ornaments hanging from the Christmas tree in the lobby of the state human services department were gone in little more than an hour last year,” reports The Colorado Sun. “Employees snatched them up, eager to buy the requested gifts: a box of diapers, a warm coat, a baby doll. Like most other giving trees, this one’s branches were filled with the wishes of needy children. Except these were the infants, toddlers and preschoolers whose parents were locked up in youth detention centers throughout Colorado. Tony Gherardini, deputy executive director of operations for the Colorado Department of Human Services and a father of three, plucked an ornament for an 18-month-old girl. Sitting at his desk downtown, Gherardini tapped his keyboard until he found a Minnie Mouse hat and a matching jacket on Amazon.”

“A shipping container hidden just off Morrison Road has been raising tiny livestock since 2015,” reports Denverite. “Every week, partners Wendy Lu McGill and Kyle Richard Conrad harvest crickets, mealworms and waxworms for human consumption. Their goal: make the world a more sustainable place by introducing insects as a viable food source. It’s something other cultures around the world have done for eons, and McGill says it’s answer to providing protein without the intense resource needs required to raise cows.”

“Democratic leaders of the Colorado House of Representatives and the chair of the state Democratic Party on Wednesday called on state Rep. Jovan Melton to resign in the wake of a report that he was arrested twice years ago on allegations of domestic violence,” reports ColoradoPolitics. “Meanwhile, a woman involved in one of the incidents, in 2008, told Colorado Politics exclusively earlier Wednesday that there was no act of domestic violence.”

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Health insurance is necessary to obfuscate the massive profits of the healthcare industry, of which are mostly diverted to the .001 percent (the same folks whom continue to profit heavily off war, tech, budget deficits, the Fed, the welfare system, etc.).

    In one way or another, Kaiser Permanente is still tied into these largest hospitals (refer to Kaiser Permanente Ventures, the investment vehicle of KP), or via Board members, or such.

    It’s a complex game of passing the buck.
    Insurance companies can blame hospitals, hospitals can blame medical vendors and pharmaceutical companies, those companies can blame government regulators, and so on……..,

    It’s really all just a diversionary tactic.
    Truth is, they’re all to blame (hospitals, insurance co’s, pharma, etc.).

    It’s part of the hierarchy of wealth in the U.S.
    The industry exists to enrich the .001 percent.
    Doctors, insurance CEO’s, pharma Executives, etc., those typically among the 1 percent, exist to:
    1. Divert ever-more money to the .001 percent above them, their masters.
    2. Make excuses and divert attention away from that fact.

    It’s very similar to the dog & pony shows that occur in politics, like Congressional Hearings, which are just meant to amuse & pacify the voters, whom hvae become merely passive political spectators.

    Sadly, in a growing age of ignorance, lies are more effective than actions.

  2. “Colorado hospitals hiked prices by 76 percent over a seven-year stretch as they pushed their profits to among the largest in the nation…”

    Imagine what a truly great nation the U.S. could continue to be if the country’s citizens were actually healthy.

    Sadly, the ACA simply handed a blank check to the medical industry……which is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., via preventable medical errors.

    Perhaps there should be legislation requiring the purchases of my products by all citizens.
    I could use the pay-raise.

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