Health Care Reform

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It’s an issue of justice.

We believe in 4 basic principles from which health policy should be built.

Health care should be: Inclusive.  Affordable.  Accessible.  Accountable.

The Colorado Council of Churches has long prioritized the importance of health care as a matter of social justice.  CCC’s Justice Commission includes Health Care in its public policy statements, and believes that the faith community is called to be an active participant in fashioning a just and effective health care system for all, so that all people can get the care they need when they need it..  Over the past few years, CCC has raised its level of commitment to participating in health care reform by educating policy makers, communities of faith and the general public about the importance of policies that promote access to affordable, quality health care. CCC encourages the people of Colorado to engage in the conversation about their health care, believing that it is too important to leave to external decision makers.

Project Health Colorado

You and your family should be able to get the care you need. Yet unpredictable costs and other burdens make health care challenging for many Coloradans. Your voice matters, because decisions about health care are too important to be left to someone else. Project Health Colorado can help make you and other Coloradans heard. We are working to make health care better by giving you a place to ask questions, get answers, share solutions and show your support for health care that works for every Coloradan. It’s your care. It’s your coverage. Have a say in it.

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News and Updates in Colorado Health Care Policy:


A new 19 minute webinar explaining the Colorado Health Care Exchange.

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What’s Happening Now in Colorado now in health reform?

Colorado released a report detailing plans for implementing health reform statewide.  This report details a collaborative process among numerous government, business, consumer, provider and nonprofit stakeholders to meet federal deadlines over the next several years.  Colorado is ahead of the curve for health reform implementation because of the 2009 passage of the Colorado Health Care Affordability Act, which expanded public insurance programs, but consistent planning is required to ensure continued smooth implementation efforts through the change in administration and state leadership. The Interagency Health Reform Implementation Board’s plan is intended to guide:

  • ”Colorado’s process for implementing new legislation, including proposals for statutory and regulatory changes;
  • Analysis of how federal legislation will impact the state budget;
  • Identification of available funding sources, local and national;
  • Analysis of available data necessary to prepare for implementation;
  • Coordination of state agencies in the implementation;
  • Development of a timeline for implementation that allows phase-in of reform and implementation of new systems; and
  • Colorado’s education and outreach efforts with advocates, legislators, federal partners, health care providers, small and large employers and other stakeholders as health care reform progresses.”

Link: To Colorado’s Road Map

Health Reform Summary: How does the Affordable Care Act work?

 In March, Congress passed the most sweeping reform of the U.S. health care system since the creation of Medicare in 1965.  This new health law will make huge changes in our health system over the next few years.  These changes include new consumer protections and insurance coverage for millions of people who are now without it, and penalties for individuals and businesses that don’t buy insurance.  It aims to control rising health care costs, and plans to use Medicare savings and new taxes to pay for it all.

As a result of the reform bill, insurance companies will not be able to deny policies to anyone based on their health status or to refuse coverage of a treatment based on pre-existing health conditions. Annual limits on coverage will be abolished.  In order to keep people from only buying insurance coverage only after they get sick and need it the bill requires most Americans to buy insurance coverage – the “individual mandate. Without this requirement, insurance would become largely unaffordable because only sick people would buy insurance.  People will be required to buy insurance coverage or pay penalties that start at $95 in 2014 and rise to $695 or 2.5 percent of income in 2016.  Employers with 50 or more workers who do not offer coverage will have to pay annual fees.

States will be able to open a health insurance exchange, or marketplace, for individuals and small businesses without coverage.  These exchanges will be designed to allow people will be able to comparison shop for standardized health packages.

To help make insurance coverage and health care more affordable, tax credits will be available for people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but have incomes below 400 percent of poverty level (about $40,000 per year for an individual and $88,000 for a family of four).  Medicaid eligibility will increase to 133 percent of the poverty level ($14,404 for individuals) for everyone under 65 (when they qualify for Medicare).


When Do Things Start Changing?

While the most impactful aspects of the new law, like mandatory health insurance coverage, will not take effect until 2014, many people will see some important changes much sooner.

  • Small Business Tax Credits: Beginning this year, the bill offers tax credits to help more small business provide their employees with health insurance. Business that begin offering employee health coverage will be eligible tax credits of up to 35 percent of their total employee premium payments. Starting in 2014, the small business tax credits will cover 50 percent of premiums.
  • Closing the Medicare Part D “Donut Hole”: Effective in 2010, Medicare recipients who fall into the costly Part D prescription drug donut hole will get a $250 rebate. Starting in 2011, the bill institutes a 50-percent discount on brand-name drugs needed by seniors already in the donut hole, and by 2020 completely eliminates the donut hole.
  • Free Preventative Care Under Medicare: Starting January 1, 2011, co-payments for Medicare-covered preventative services will be eliminated. In addition, preventative services will be exempted from deductibles.
  • Help for Early Retirees: To survive the recession, many businesses have been offering their employees early retirement. To help them, the bill creates a temporary re-insurance program to help businesses offset the costs related to health benefits for retirees age 55-64. The temporary re-insurance program will become effective 90 days after enactment of the bill and will last until the State Health Insurance Exchanges are available.
  • Insurance Rescissions Ended: Imagine paying your health insurance premiums for years, and the first time you get really sick, your insurance company drops your coverage. That’s called “rescission” and six months after the health care reform bill was signed, insurance companies will be banned from doing it.
  • No More Lifetime Coverage Limits: Also beginning 6 months after final enactment, the bill bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime coverage limits.
  • More Bang for Your Insurance Buck: Starting on January 1, 2011, insurance companies serving individuals and small groups will be required to prove that they are spending 80 percent of their customers’ premium payments on medical services, rather than on things like advertising and executive salaries. Insurers in the large group market will have to spend 85 percent on medical services. Companies that do not meet the standards will have to rebate their customers.
  • Coverage for Kids and Young Adults: Beginning 6 months after final enactment, the bill bans insurance companies from denying coverage for children with pre-existing medical conditions.  Young people will be able to keep their coverage under their parent’s health care insurance, until they are 26 years old.
  • More Doctors, Nurses and Community Health Centers: Effective immediately, the bill authorizes money to fund programs intended to increase the number of doctors, nurses, and public health professionals, and increased funding for Community Health Centers. It is estimated that the increased funding will allow the Health Centers to double the number of patients they can treat over the next 5 years.

To learn more about the timeline for health care reform implementation or for general information about the legislation, visit the Kaiser Family Foundation.


For your one-stop location for answers to your questions about the Affodable Health Care act and how it affects you, go to .


Impacts of Health Reform to Churches as Small Businesses

For the purposes of health insurance, communities of faith and their organizational structures are treated as non-profit employers that have responsibilities to the persons who work for them. Several provisions in the new health reform law will impact faith organizations.

  • Small faith organizations are among the 4 million small businesses and small non-profit organizations that could immediately qualify for tax credits through a reduction in their payroll taxes – if they pay at least 50% of the premium costs for employees. Effective immediately for both existing and new coverage, communities of faith with fewer than 25 employees may qualify for a tax credit of up to 25% of the employer’s contribution to offset the employer’s portion of payroll (FICA) taxes. In 2014 the percentage goes up to 35%.
  • Note: In faith groups where clergy are considered self-employed for payroll tax purposes, clergy premiums are not eligible for calculating the tax credit because no payroll taxes are paid.
  • Beginning in 2011, employers will be required to include the value of the health insurance on W-2 forms, but the value of that coverage remains tax-free.
  • Beginning in 2014, employers with more than 50 employees will pay a penalty if their contributions toward health insurance do not result in affordable premiums for full-time workers who then seek and qualify for coverage and subsidies in the exchange.
  • Beginning in 2014, employers with more than 200 employees will be required to automatically enroll all employees in health insurance, allowing workers to opt-out of the plans (rather than opt-in).
  • In 2018, employers will be subject to an excise tax on the “Cadillac” plans. (Assessment = 40% of the value over $10,200 for individuals/$27,500 for families; $11,850/$30,950 for retirees and those in certain high-risk professions, all indexed to inflation)

Source: Faithful Reform


Want to Learn More?

Faithful Reform in Health Care

State of Colorado: Health Care Reform in Colorado

Kaiser Family Foundation’s Bill Summary and Implementation Timeline

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Hot Topics in Health Reform

CCC’s Health Care work is supported by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Colorado Council of Churches is honored to be a partner in Colorado Voices for Coverage (CVC), which is an national grant awarded to Colorado funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with assistance from local funders. This important work brings the voices of consumers (community members like you) to the table to link policy makers with community members so that policy decisions are informed by real people with real issues and concerns about the health care system.

For more information, visit