Chronic Care Collaborative

Author Archives: Sara F

COVID-19 Vaccine Coming to a Vaccine Site Near You

December 2020, when the first COVID-19 vaccine received emergency approval and was slowly rolled out to the public, seems like a lifetime ago. We all felt relief as our older loved ones, and other high-risk members of the population got their first shot. 

It seemed, at the time, however, that it would be a long time before our turn came. But with President Joe Biden’s goal to make everyone eligible for the vaccine by May 1, the vaccination timeline, fortunately, has sped up. In fact, the next stage of the rollout in Colorado, Phase 1.b.4, has been move up to March 19!

 

Timeline for vaccine eligibility moves up

Governor Jared Polis announced his goal to make every Coloradoan 16 and over eligible for the vaccine by mid-April. He also announced the next phase in the vaccine rollout would begin on March 19th. 

It’s important to note that every group remains eligible as new phases open up. In other words, once you’re eligible to receive a vaccine, you’re always eligible. Your eligibility doesn’t expire. 

 

Who will be eligible starting March 19th?

This next phase will include adults 50 and over and faith leaders, restaurant workers, US postal workers, and many other groups. For a full list of those eligible for a vaccine in this stage, visit the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment website.  

Additionally, the list of high-risk health conditions has expanded in this phase. In the current/previous Phase 1.b.3, if you had two or more of the following health conditions, you were eligible. In this 1.b.4 phase, you need only one of these conditions to be eligible to receive a vaccine. 

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD
  • Diabetes, types 1 and 2
  • Down syndrome
  • Specific heart conditions
    • Heart failure
    • Cardiomyopathies or coronary heart disease
    • Severe valvular/congenital heart disease
  • Obesity (BMI of 30 or more), 
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Solid-organ transplant
  • Individuals with disabilities who require direct care in their home
  • People with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks.

The following additional conditions have been added to the Phase 1.b.4 eligibility list:

  • Asthma
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state from blood or bone marrow transplant
  • Immune deficiencies
  • HIV
  • Use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines,
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)

 

I’m eligible! Great! Now what?

Visit this page to find out where and when you can schedule an appointment to get vaccinated. The good news is that new times open up every day so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see something convenient right away. The better news is that large community vaccination sites are either opening or have plans to open around the states.

If you’re eligible to receive a vaccine, there is no need to get a doctor’s office or any proof of a health condition. Simply fill out this self-attestation form and bring it with you. No other documentation is needed from your provider, and no one will be turned away for lack of “proof” that they are in a tier. 

The next phase of Colorado’s vaccine rollout plan, Phase 2, will cover the general public over age 16 is expected sometime in mid-April.

Bennet, Crapo, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Medicare Beneficiaries Receive Coverage for Cancer Detection Technologies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, December 17, 2020

CONTACT: Rachel Skaar  202-594-6252

 

Bennet, Crapo, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Medicare Beneficiaries Receive Coverage for Cancer Detection Technologies

Bill Ensures Medicare Coverage for Access to Multi-Cancer Diagnostics and Supports Innovation in Cancer Diagnostic Development

Washington, D.C. — Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act, which would provide Medicare coverage for screening tests to save lives and costs to the health care system. The bipartisan legislation would ensure Medicare beneficiaries have coverage for innovative tests that can detect multiple types of cancer before symptoms develop.

“Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. I know from personal experience that early detection can make all the difference,” said Bennet. “This legislation will ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the latest diagnostic technologies, which have enormous potential to save lives and costs to our health care system.”

“Health care decisions should be the result of conversations between patients and their providers,” said Crapo. “When innovative items and services enter the health care marketplace, it is essential that Medicare provides patient access without delay.  Overly bureaucratic barriers to preventative care can lead to poorer health outcomes and increased health care costs.  The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would provide a Medicare coverage pathway for novel screening technologies, while relying on an evidence-based process that protects patients and taxpayers.  As we move into the 117th Congress, I will continue to advocate for policies that will improve the decision-making process for patients and their provider.”

“Disparities in cancer treatment and outcomes persist in communities of color who experience higher rates of incidence and death.  One reason this disparity exists is because people of color have lower rates of routine cancer screening.  This legislation provides a pathway for multi-cancer screening technologies that would help increase cancer screening rates and reduce persistent racial disparities in treatment and outcomes by catching the disease before it progresses too far,” said Cardin.

“More than 31,000 South Carolinians are diagnosed with cancer each year, with roughly two in five cases diagnosed during late stages.  By ensuring that seniors can access FDA-approved multi-cancer early detection tests, this bipartisan legislation has the potential to dramatically increase the survival rates for dozens of cancer-types, including those with few or no screening tests currently available,” said Scott. “As the Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Personalized Medicine Caucus, I am proud to champion innovative solutions and tools that allow us to better target care, saving lives and long-term costs.”

“The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would be a game changer in terms of early cancer detection.  Cancer is the leading cause of death in Colorado and having access to this new technology would save more lives.  As cancer risk increases as you age, making this technology accessible to Medicare beneficiaries is extremely important to ensure equitable health care and coverage.” – Christi Cahill, Executive Director, Colorado Cancer Coalition 

“Colorado BioScience Association applauds Senator Bennet for his leadership on legislation that improves patient access to leading-edge cancer diagnostics developed by America’s health innovators and approved by the FDA. Access to new, proven health innovations will save patient lives with early detection and treatment.” – Jennifer Jones Paton, President and CEO, Colorado BioScience Association

“By creating a pathway for Medicare to cover new, innovative, FDA-approved screening tests, this legislation would help provide more individuals with access to the screening tools they and their providers deem best for them.  Knowing that detecting cancer early improves outcomes, this legislation would help save lives and reduce health disparities.” – Lisa Lacasse, President, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

“We cannot have 21st century medicine without 21st century diagnostics.  This bill provides for less intrusive methods that allow for earlier diagnosis when treatment is most effective.  This legislation is essential to protect the health of all Medicare beneficiaries; it also benefits the financial health of Medicare by providing care when it is less costly and more likely to result in positive outcomes for the person and their family.” – Jane L. Delgado, Ph.D., M.S., President and CEO, National Alliance for Hispanic Health

“For 35 years, the Prevent Cancer Foundation has worked towards fulfilling the mission of saving lives across all populations through the prevention and early detection of cancer.  Multi-cancer screening tests are an exciting innovation that can save lives through the early detection of cancer and we must work to ensure coverage and access to these tests.  The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act is an important step towards providing coverage for multi-cancer screening tests for Medicare beneficiaries and we are grateful to Senators Bennet, Crapo, Cardin and Scott as lead sponsors on this bill.” – Jody Hoyos, Executive Vice President, Prevent Cancer Foundation

“We, at the Cancer Support Community, are supportive of advancing promising technologies like multi-cancer early detection testing.  We will also continue our advocacy to ensure that patients can access and afford care and services across the cancer continuum including prevention, screening, early detection, treatment, and survivorship.” – Elizabeth Franklin, Executive Director, Cancer Policy Institute, Cancer Support Community

“When we have the opportunity to address inequities in healthcare through new technology, it is imperative that we do whatever we can to remove barriers to access.  Multi-cancer early detection is one such opportunity – a technology that could help address the entrenched disparity in cancer outcomes for communities of color and reduce patient risk across the board.  The legislation introduced today is a great step towards ensuring the benefits of multi-cancer detection can be achieved.” – Gary A. Puckrein, Ph.D., President and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum

Congress has previously acted before to provide Medicare coverage for other cancer screenings, including mammography and colorectal screenings. The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would:

  • Create authority for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover the latest diagnostic technologies, once approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including blood-based multi-cancer early detection tests and future test methods that draw on samples of urine or hair;
  • Maintain CMS authority to use an evidence-based process to determine coverage parameters for these new tests; and
  • State that new diagnostic technologies will supplement, not replace, existing screenings and will not impact existing coverage and cost-sharing.

Under current law, Medicare only covers preventive services Congress has explicitly authorized, or the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended. Without this legislation, it could take several years after FDA approval for Medicare to cover new early detection technologies for cancer. To ensure timely, consistent coverage of screening items and services, the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would establish a defined benefit category and reduce such delays, returning health care decisions to providers and patients. These new detection technologies will complement existing screenings and dramatically improve the country’s early detection capabilities for cancer.

The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act has the support of a number of leading organizations, including: Chronic Care Collaborative, Colorado Cancer Coalition, Colorado BioScience Association, Colorado Gerontological Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), Association of Community Cancer Centers, Cancer Support Community, Idaho Society of Clinical Oncology, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF), Prevent Cancer Foundation, and Susan G. Komen®.

The bill text is available HERE.

Got COVID on Your Mind? Don’t Forget About Open Enrollment!

Did you forget that open enrollment is just around the corner? Between the global pandemic and the national election, it may be easy for us to forget about open enrollment season. Open enrollment for Medicare is October 15-December 7, 2020. The open enrollment period for individual, family, and some employer-based insurance options starts is November 1-January 15, 2021. Please note that in order to receive insurance coverage by January 1, 2021, consumers will need to have completed the enrollment process by December 15, 2020 otherwise they will have coverage effective February 1, 2021. 

The passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2012 and its enactment in 2013 brought about great change for many who were previously under- or uninsured around the country. Prior to the implementation of Colorado’s state-based healthcare exchange in 2013, 14.1 percent of consumers were uninsured, however, by 2019, only 6.5 percent of Coloradans were uninsured

While Colorado has made significant improvements in coverage, it is essential for individuals to pick the right plan for their personal situation during open enrollment season. Don’t assume if you re-enroll that last year’s plan is identical in benefits to this year’s plan. People living with a chronic disease, and their caregivers, know how essential continuous coverage can be for one’s health, well-being, and finances.

This year it is especially important to check if your doctor is in network since many major insurance companies have made changes to their provider networks.

Unfortunately, there may be some hidden elements of a health insurance plan which could present barriers to accessing dependable and affordable care. The Chronic Care Collaborative encourages all Coloradans to be mindful of insurance plan designs that include coinsurance, step therapy or copay accumulator programs. As you compare plans, keep an eye out for plan design language could lead to challenges in accessing or affording treatment options, specialty providers, or a new healthcare setting. If you have experienced barriers to care in the past, please fill out this brief survey so we can improve health policy in Colorado for people like you.

There are many resources available to consumers to help you make the most informed decision before enrolling in a plan. The Colorado Gerontological Society is offering free virtual Medicare workshops during Medicare’s open enrollment. Connect for Health Colorado has a consumer-friendly Plan Finder Tool to help sort through plans offered on Colorado’s health insurance marketplace. You can also talk to your HR staff, if your insurance is sponsored by your employer, or a health navigator can help you identify the right plan for your health needs and avoid plans with particular barriers to care. Regardless of where you get your insurance, here is a helpful checklist for people living with chronic conditions and their caregivers.

Connect for Health Colorado suggests that you track down the following information prior to filling out your application:

  1. Names and dates of birth for each person in your household;
  2. Home mailing addresses for all those included on your tax return;
  3. Social security numbers;
  4. Immigration document information;
  5. For federal income tax filers, you will need list those you claim as a dependent;
  6. Employer and income information for everyone in your household.

Take note for next year! During the 2020 legislative session, Colorado lawmakers approved HB20-1236 allowing for the development of the Affordable Health Care Coverage Easy Enrollment Program poised to launch in 2022. This new program will streamline the enrollment process and will assist consumers in determining their eligibility after filing their tax return making the process easier for consumers. 

Please feel free to share, print, and reference this helpful Open Enrollment Summary.

How to Hold a Fundraiser During a Pandemic

CCC members pivot in order to hold big annual fundraising events

 

As with many nonprofit organizations, the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter had to get creative this year when it came to their annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising event, due to Covid-19. Coming up this Saturday, September 19, the Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s is billed as a “walk everywhere” event.

Davenport family did a 5.5 mile hike to end Alzheimer’s September 2020.

“It’s a DIY walk year,” explains Rebecca Engle, Director of the Denver Walk, “Instead of walking through a park for two miles together, you can hike a trail, climb a 14er, bike on a bike trail, or walk around your neighborhood. It’s what you make it with your family and friends or team members – whomever you feel comfortable with.” Even better, she says, you can do it anytime you want until the end of the year. It doesn’t have to be this Saturday. 

She and Senior Denver Walk Manager Ali Brieske said that earlier in the year when the pandemic first broke out, they kept a careful eye on the numbers in Colorado. They realized early on that they wouldn’t be able to hold the traditional Denver walk, which usually attracts about 10,000 to 12,000 participants in the fall. They held out hope that the other 12 Colorado walks, which tend to be smaller, might go on.

In early June, they received instructions from the home office that all in-person walks were canceled this year. As one of the top 10 Alzheimer’s walks nationwide, raising $1.28 million last year, the Denver office knew they had to pivot to plan a new walk experience quickly. 

“We don’t call it a virtual walk intentionally because it’s not just online. We tried to create an experience for people that would mimic our walk in the park, that would keep people safe and also allow people to celebrate the day because it is quite special,” explained Brieske.

On Walk Day this Saturday, there will be an online opening ceremony in the morning with their signature promise garden flower ceremony. There’s also an app that participants can download to track their steps and offer inspirational messages, some from celebrities. Again, you can watch the opening ceremony and use the app anytime between walk day and the end of the year. 

The Scleroderma Foundation Rocky Mountain Region also had to change up their annual fundraiser this year. Usually, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Scleroderma Foundation Maria Dastur says, the home office provides guidelines for all walks nationwide. With the pandemic, the Rocky Mountain chapter was able to get creative and target its active community. In June, they held the Choose Your Own Adventure: Stepping Out to Cure Scleroderma virtual fundraiser.

Scleroderma Foundation’s “Most Creative Fundraiser” award winner, Team Sal’s Pals

Also, instead of a one day walk, they decided to make it a two-month event because Dastur didn’t think a one-day event would raise enough money. Last year, the walks in Denver and Fort Collins, combined, raised $54,191, which makes up about a third of their operating budget.

She encouraged the Scleroderma community to get creative and not give up on fundraising. And creative is what they got. Some did a bike ride while others hit a treadmill. One person did a music video and sent it to anyone who donated. Another fundraiser hosted an improv night.

In the end, Dastur said that they surpassed what they made last year. “The Denver event almost matched 2019 levels, but it netted 27% more with the decreased expenses.” Her advice to other organizations: focus on the top fundraising teams. Help them in any way you can. 

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Rocky Mountain Chapter also had to figure out how to continue the tradition of their annual fundraising walk without jeopardizing their community’s health. Laura Rosseisen, Executive Director of JDRF, Rocky Mountain Chapter, said that they found out in late May that they couldn’t hold an in-person walk, which they’ve done for about 30 years.

Laura Rosseisen’s triathlon

Instead, the JDRF is holding a nationwide One Walk event, instead of individual walks. This event is also a multi-month event, ending November 1. “The November date is actually a celebration of sorts with people celebrating what they’ve done,” Rosseisen explains. “We have a robust virtual event planned with a virtual expo area and many things that you would experience in person.”

People are also getting creative with their fundraising efforts for the JDRF event. Some teams are setting a number of miles to walk between the time they registered and November 1. Others are pledging to walk on 10 different days, and others are picking a specific date to walk. Three different teams raised over $50,000, combined, by making masks and giving one to anyone who donated. 

In addition to the JDRF One Walk, they also hold a cycling program, which, again, this year looks a little different than past events. Called the JDRF My Ride, participants can ride any way they’d like – indoors, outdoors, with friends, up a mountain, on a bike path, etc. 

For her ride, Rosseisen did a triathlon September 2 to raise funds for JDRF. “I’m a person who likes to swim, run, and ride my bike. I decided this year that instead of tackling a big ride, which I’ve done in the past, I wanted to do something different.”

All three organizations’ representatives were happy that they could pivot and continue their annual big fundraising events, even though they looked different this year. The one thing that they missed, though, was the gathering of the community. 

“We’ll probably continue to have a virtual component,” says Dastur. “But, these in-person events are the once a year that our community comes together.”

 

Important links:

Denver’s Alzheimer’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s 

One Walk JDRF, Denver

My Ride JDRF

Scleroderma Foundation Rocky Mountain Chapter

Everyone Counts: Census 2020

Have you filled out the 2020 Census? As of August 7, 2020, 66.55 percent of Colorado households have done so. While that number is better than the national rate, which is 63 percent, it’s still below the national final mail-in rate of the 2010 Census, which was 74 percent, as well as the 2010 Colorado self-response rate. On the plus side, did you know that two Colorado cities were in the top 10 of response rates a decade ago, with Centennial at 83 percent and Arvada at 82 percent! Way to go CO!

You may be thinking, why should I fill this out? What is this headcount all about? For starters, the Census is mandated in our constitution. Article 1, Section 2, and Title 13 of the United States Code mandates the count of all persons living in the US, including all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens, and noncitizens, every 10 years. Fortunately, the same law also requires that your answers be kept confidential.

Most importantly, if your household does not respond, your community may get shortchanged. The population numbers reported in the Census help direct hundreds of billions of dollars in government funds to local communities for schools, roads, hospitals, and other public services, including nonprofits. The information is also used to determine the number of seats each state has in Congress and also to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

The message to fill out your Census questionnaire either by mail, phone, or online is more urgent now more than ever. The US Census Bureau recently announced that the deadline to respond has been moved up to September 30 – a month earlier than previously set.

If your household has already filled out the Census, please check with family members, friends or neighbors to make sure they fill it out too. If you are a caregiver, it is especially important to make sure to check with those you are caring for to see if they need a reminder or assistance.

Because it’s vital to get as complete a headcount as possible, census takers will be sent out to knock on doors of households that have not responded starting August 11. They will continue to hit every door that has not responded until September 30. This task is daunting given the condensed timeline and the number of households that still have not responded. 

The good news is that there is still time to respond, and the Census is easier to fill out than ever this year. For the first time, you have the ability to respond online, in addition to telephone (844-330-2020) and mail. Plus, it’s very quick to fill out! Most people can complete the census questions about 5 minutes. 

If you have any questions about the U.S. Census, just text 303-622-5881 or visit Together We Count for 24/7 assistance chat services. To respond by phone in over 13 languages, click here.

Can we count on you? 

2020 State Legislative Victories 

It goes without saying the 2020 legislative session in Colorado, like all across the country, was unpredictable and unprecedented due to COVID-19. Thanks to strong legislative leadership and an incredible community of advocacy partners however, there were still many victories for Coloradans living with chronic conditions.

SB20-030 – Consumer Protections for Utility Customers: Concerning increased consumer protections for customers of investor-owned utilities, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation. The CCC thanks Senate President Garcia, Sen. Rodriguez, and Rep. Esgar for sponsoring this bill, which the CCC supported and testified in the House Transportation and Energy Committee. SB20-030 raises the income threshold for eligibility for a medical exemption from tiered electricity rates from 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 400% of the FPL. The CCC administers the Colorado Medical Exemption Program (CMEP) on behalf of Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy and are pleased that more people will now qualify for this important energy assistance program.

SB20-163 – School Entry Immunization: Concerning the modernization of the school entry immunization process, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation. The CCC supported this bill and joined a broad coalition called Colorado Vaccinates and thanks the bill sponsors Rep. Mullica, Rep. Roberts, Sen. Priola, and Sen. Gonzales.

SB20-212 – Reimbursement For Telehealth Services: Concerning reimbursement for health care services provided through telehealth, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation. This bill will help make permanent some of the COVID-19 public health orders related to telehealth. The CCC was one of several advocacy organizations involved in stakeholder meetings with the Division of Insurance leading up to this bill. The CCC thanks bill sponsors Sen. Winter, Sen. Tate, Rep. Soper, and Rep. Lontine.

SB20-215 – Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise – This legislation will create an enterprise to capture fees already being paid by insurance carriers and direct them where they’ll do the most good for consumers. Without impacting the state budget it will:

  1. Make ongoing funding available for Colorado’s successful reinsurance program;
  2. Make insurance more affordable for individual-market consumers that don’t benefit from reinsurance, namely lower income Coloradans that receive federal subsidies under the ACA;
  3. Create affordable health insurance options for people left out of the Affordable Care Act, including individuals in the “family glitch” and people excluded from coverage because of their immigration status.

The CCC supported SB20-215 and thanks many community partners who spearheaded this late bill including Colorado Consumer Health Initative, Colorado Center for Law and Policy and the Children’s Campaign. Thank you to bill sponsors Sen. Moreno, Sen. Donovan, Rep. Kennedy and Rep. McClusky. Seeking board members!

HB20-1232 – Equity in Access to Clinical Trials in Medicaid: Concerning equity in access to clinical trials for individuals enrolled in the medical assistance program. In 2009, the CCC supported Representative Primavera’s bill to increase access to clinical trials. The CCC supported this bill and testified in the House Health and Insurance Committee. This model legislation which was originally focused on cancer, was broadened to include many other serious diseases so more people can experience the hope and treatment options provided by clinical trials. HB20-1232 will eliminate barriers to participating in clinical trials for patients on Medicaid, by covering routine costs while they are in the trial, such as doctors appointments and lab tests. These routine costs are required already to be covered in the private market and in Medicare. Thank you to the Colorado Cancer Caucus for working closely with patients and providers on this bill and to the sponsors Sen. Todd, Rep. Michaelson Jenet, and Rep. Liston.

HB20-1236 – Health Care Coverage Easy Enrollment Program. The bill creates the Colorado affordable health care coverage easy enrollment program for the purpose of leveraging the tax filing process to connect uninsured Coloradans to free or subsidized health care coverage. The program will allow Coloradans to ask on their state income tax returns for the Colorado health benefit exchange to assess whether uninsured household members are potentially eligible for free or subsidized health care coverage. If the tax filer requests that the eligibility of uninsured household members be assessed under the program, the tax filer will receive information about coverage options and assistance with enrollment. The CCC supported HB20-1236 and thanks the Colorado Center for Law and Policy and bill sponsors Rep. Lontine, Rep. Will, Sen. Tate, and Sen. Bridges. Seeking board members!

HB20-1420 – Adjust Tax Expenditures For State Education Fund: Concerning the adjustment of certain state tax expenditures in order to allocate additional revenues to the state education fund, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation. The CCC joined a very broad coalition of supporters who recognized the need for more revenue to help offset the huge budget hole largely due to COVID-19. Thank you to sponsors Rep. Sirota, Rep. Gray, Sen. Moreno, and Sen. Hansen.

Chronic Disease Day 2020

Supporting Coloradans Living with Neurodegenerative Diseases During COVID-19

Everyone is at risk of developing COVID-19. But, those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and dementia have a higher chance of developing severe symptoms – and of dying from the virus. According to the CDC, people with underlying medical conditions have 12 times the risk of being hospitalized and six times the risk of dying than healthy people.

In Colorado, 61.5 percent of adults have at least one chronic condition, and 35.2 percent of adults have two or more chronic conditions. This prevalence increases from 40.7 percent among those 18 to 24 years old to 89.6 percent among those 65 or older. The risk of developing severe symptoms from COVID-19 increases with age, which makes this older group with at least one chronic condition especially vulnerable to this novel virus.

As more businesses open and more employees return to work, people with chronic health conditions face unique challenges in how to conduct their lives while protecting their health. Knowing you’re at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms from a rapidly spreading virus can be stressful and frightening. Some of the best ways to manage stress and fear in the face of uncertainty are to educate yourself, be prepared, and stay positive. It is also important to stay connected with medical providers and caregivers, even if it is through telemedicine or other virtual ways to communicate.

 

Chronic Disease Day

July 10 is Chronic Disease Day, which is a day dedicated to bringing together local governments, patient advocacy groups, and local communities to share actionable resources and support the chronic disease community. In honor of Chronic Disease Day, the Chronic Care Collaborative (CCC) would like to thank the Adira Foundation for their generous grant to help those living with neurodegenerative diseases in Colorado. Thanks to the COVID-19 Fast Track Grant from the Adira Foundation, the CCC and four of its member organizations were able to help their constituents navigate the unique physical and emotional issues that have arisen during this unprecedented time.

The Adira Foundation is a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with neurodegenerative diseases. The CCC greatly respects and appreciates the collaborative nature of this foundation and it’s focus on local, community organizations. In Colorado, the CCC and Adira partnered with The Rocky Mountain MS Center; the Parkinson Association of the Rockies; the ALS Association Rocky Mountain Chapter; and the Alzheimer’s Association, Colorado Chapter.

 

Helping those with Chronic Conditions during COVID-19

Thanks to the Adira Foundation grant, the Rocky Mountain MS Center was able to provide virtual and online education and support to individuals and families living with multiple sclerosis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the wonderful projects they were able to accomplish include an online education page, transforming their bi-annual Education Summit into a live stream virtual program, virtual counseling sessions, and providing food assistance.

The Alzheimer’s Association used funds to support a 24/7 hotline that provided support and answered questions on various issues related to COVID-19. Caregivers in Colorado, especially, needed guidance on how to ensure the physical safety of their loved ones and themselves, and handle those diagnosed who were exhibiting more severe issues due to extended isolation.

The Parkinson Association of the Rockies was able to help people with necessities such as groceries, medications, and Uber rides to doctor’s appointments. Similarly, the ALS Association’s Rocky Mountain Chapter has been able to offer direct financial assistance for people living with ALS or their caregivers through their Quality of Life grant program during the pandemic.

Furthermore, thanks to the Adira Foundation, the CCC was able to leverage its generous grant to obtain a state-sponsored COVID-19 Relief grant. The CCC looks forward to further helping people with chronic conditions maintain their health and not get derailed by this hard-to-contain virus.

 

 

 

You May Be Eligible For Lower Energy Rates Through CMEP!

Do I Qualify for the Colorado Medical Exemption Program (CMEP)?

For Current Xcel Energy Customers Only:

For medical reasons, your household may use more electricity to help manage your health condition. However, if you use more than 606 kilowatt hours of power per month in the summer (June through September) and make 400% or below of the federal poverty level, you are eligible for a reduced summer rate through CMEP.

The deadline to apply is May 1st. Your rates will be reduced from June-September.

The two-page application can be found here.

You must sign and complete the patient form (front page) and have your health care provider sign and complete the Health Care Provider Certification Form (back page).

Fax your completed application to Chronic Care Collaborative at 303-955-7538 or mail to:

CCC-Energy Program
PO Box 461657
Aurora, CO 80015-9998

If you have any questions or need help call 303-993-5056.

 

For Current Black Hills Energy Customers Only:

Black Hills Energy offers a lower rate year-round if your household is below 250% of the federal poverty level, have a medical need and your energy usage is above 780 kWh usage.

The two page application can be found here. There is no deadline for Black Hills Energy customers.

To apply, sign and complete the patient form (front page) and have your health care provider sign and complete the Health Care Provider Certification Form (back page). Black Hills customers must include proof of income.

Fax your completed application to Chronic Care Collaborative at 303-955-7538 or mail to:

CCC-Energy Program
PO Box 461657
Aurora, CO 80015-9998

If you have any questions or need help call 303-993-5056.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What should I do if I need help, have questions, or would like a mailed copy of the application?
    • Call Sabrina at 303-993-5056
  • Can the application be filled out electronically?
    • Yes
  • Which medical conditions qualify?
    • Medical conditions that require higher electric energy usage include life support equipment in your home. Some examples include home dialysis, oxygen and CPAP machines, and electric wheelchairs.
    • Chronic diseases could include multiple sclerosis, lupus, or epilepsy.
    • The prescribed use of medications which keep your body temperature high could also qualify.
    • Any condition your health care provider certifies that you require higher electric usage due to your health status or condition.
  • Will the energy company know my medical condition or income?
    • NO! The Chronic Care Collaborative is a nonprofit which administers the program and certifies you as eligible. Neither energy company has your private information.
  • What is 400% of the federal poverty level in 2021?

CMEP Household Income Limits for 2021 for Xcel Energy Customers = 400% FPL

  • What is 250% of the federal poverty level in 2021?

Household income limits for Black Hills Energy Customers = 250% FPL

How do rates change for Xcel customers through CMEP?

    • Many customers pay higher electric rates in the summer. They are charged a standard rate for the first 500 kilowatt hours of electricity, and a higher rate for anything over 500 kilowatt hours in one billing period. This tiered rate can make summer bills much higher, largely if power use is over 606 kilowatt hours per month. The Colorado Medical Exemption Program offers those who qualify a single, reduced rate for all electricity used from June through September. The program not only lowers billing rates, but also removes the Tier 2 rate for using more electricity. Standard rates return October 1. For more information, please see the Xcel fact sheet.
  • How do rates change for Black Hills customers through CMEP?
    • Customers enrolled in CMEP will pay a flat rate for electricity. The rate is $0.11094 per kilowatt-hour of electricity used and will be in effect year-round. Participants will continue to pay for all other riders and charges on their Black Hills Energy bill, including the monthly customer charge.
  • Do I need to provide proof of income with my application?
    • No for Xcel Energy. Yes for Black Hills Energy.

Will my personal information remain private?

    • Yes, your private information will not be share with energy companies. The Chronic Care Collaborative staff determines eligibility and does not share your private medical or household income with the energy companies.

Finding Common Ground To Help People Living With Neurodegenerative Diseases

Each Spring, the Chronic Care Collaborative celebrates Chronic Disease Awareness Day at the Colorado State Capitol when people living with chronic conditions are united in their message of how critical improved affordability and access in health care are for our community. It’s an inspiring reminder that while our individual conditions and how they impact us individually are very different, our common goals unify us. It’s also powerful for those who aren’t living with a chronic disease to recognize that at least one in four in Colorado are currently living with a chronic condition. 

At Adira Foundation, we recognize the essential purpose of the CCC; a format for a voice, a place for listening and exchange, and an opportunity to join forces to respond to neurodegenerative diseases like MS, ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, and Huntington’s Disease. Of course, the Chronic Care Collaborative represents other chronic illnesses, yet where Adira and the group unit is among these five disease states.

On a recent visit to Denver, CEO and Founder of Adira Foundation, Greg Smiley met with Chronic Care Collaborative members who are association leaders of the five neurodegenerative disease states listed above. Not surprisingly, we heard an exchange that resonates with all; a desire to see where the trajectory can change for people living with neurodegenerative diseases and for those who care for them. What we learned is the diseases are different, yet there are consistent experiences for the diagnosed person; greater services are needed in home care, long term care planning and advisement, accessibility in transportation, navigating health systems and services supporting livability.

Adira Foundation and Chronic Care Collaborative recognize that a person is never defined by their diagnosis. However people with chronic conditions, especially those with neurodegenerative diseases have unique needs due to their condition, which often change from day-to-day or month-to-month. Adira and the CCC look forward to working together to help tackle some of the big things for our community, like improved collaboration in health care systems, support and resources for caregivers, patient-friendly health care policies, and increased research that benefits all who are living with neurodegenerative diseases.

It is no small effort to organize, and to make known that there are 8 million individuals who are diagnosed in this country with one of these five diseases. By 2030, we expect the number of diagnoses will increase 38% to 11 million. As our baby boomer population advances, we will see an additional increase of those 85 years and over, a group expected to grow from 5.8 million to 18 million by 2050. Given that neurodegenerative diseases are more common in older adults, the desire to have better processes in place is not only necessary, but timely. The Adira Foundation and the CCC see opportunity in a shared voice for people with chronic illnesses and attention to listening to their needs to find ways to benefit individuals and families through like minded approaches and a call to action.

In 2020, Chronic Disease Awareness Day (#ChronicDiseaseCO) was a virtual event for the first time due to COVID-19. A sense of community is always important, but now more than ever while all people, especially those living with chronic conditions are practicing strict social distancing to protect themselves and others. Please help us continue to stay connected via social media and more virtual opportunities to continue to unite, listen, support each other, and spread hope. 

We encourage you to share your personal connection to neurodegenerative diseases on social media and use the hashtag #Heart4ND to help raise awareness and help others. 

To be a part of the conversation and to participate with Adira Foundation in other ways visit http://www.adirafoundation.org, be a part of the #Heart4ND online movement, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. To learn more about the Chronic Care Collaborative’s efforts in Colorado, please visit https://www.chroniccarecollaborative.org/.

By: Marilyn Spinner, Chief Development and External Affairs Officer for Adira Foundation and Sara Froelich, Executive Director of the CCC

Congressional Diabetes Caucus Highlights Need and Ways to Bring Insulin Prices Down

Co-Chairs of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY)  and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) issued the following press release on November 1, 2018:

Washington, DC – The skyrocketing cost of insulin must be brought under control for the sake of millions of Americans who depend on it, and the U.S. government has tools at its disposal to help, the bipartisan Congressional Diabetes Caucus concluded in a report released today.

Caucus co-chairs Tom Reed (R-NY) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) completed the report after an inquiry lasting more than a year involving consultations with patients, health care providers, insulin makers, wholesalers, pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and health insurers.

“We care about the 7.5 million Americans who rely on insulin to manage their blood sugar levels and prevent debilitating complications every day,” Reed and DeGette said. “Many cannot live without it, but countless patients struggle to afford it. As their out-of-pocket costs continue to rise, the current system is unfairly putting insulin out of reach, placing millions of lives at risk.”

The price of insulin has doubled since 2012, after nearly tripling in the previous 10 years. A patient’s out-of-pocket insulin cost can exceed $300 per vial; some regularly use two or more vials per month. Patients have resorted to skipping doses, which can have dangerous, even fatal consequences.

In conducting their inquiry, Reed and DeGette found the insulin drug market is especially complicated due to interconnected issues, marked by an influx of upward price pressures with limited counterbalancing downward market forces.

The insulin market involves drug makers, wholesalers, pharmacies, PBMs and insurers. The drug’s list price is based on factors including manufacturers’ operational expenses, research and development costs, and marketing expenses. From there, the cost is affected by intermediaries in the supply chain and incentives that drive up the price further.

At the same time, relatively few downward market forces exist to keep the price under control: In the United States, insulin is manufactured by only three companies, while three large wholesalers control about 85 percent of the distribution market.

In their report, Reed and DeGette make 11 policy recommendations that include actions to increase the transparency of pricing, foster market competition, modify formulary usage and address patent reform.

The report can be found here.