• Town Hall With Joann Ginal

    Last Friday was the first Town Hall Meeting of 2017 with Representative Joann Ginal, an event that will hopefully remain a monthly occurrence at R Bar and Lounge in Fort Collins, Colorado. Rep. Ginal brought Alex Caldwell and Rebecca Silvernale from Colorado Health Institute (CHI) to answer questions about the pending status of the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect citizens in Fort Collins and Colorado. If you’re not familiar with CHI, it is a health policy research agency here in Colorado that was founded in 2002 to provide data and research to help form policy and provide better support across the state. It has since grown to become a trusted source for advisors and skilled evaluators and is actively working “to make Colorado #1 in health.”

    Let’s stay strong, let’s stay loud, and let’s stay together on this. – Rep. Joann Ginal

    Rep. Ginal and CHI hosted a town hall format meeting that started with a quick slideshow with some statistics and evaluations of some of the possibilities for the future of the American Care Act. The consensus from Caldwell and Silvernale was that ACA will almost certainly be repealed, but the method by which it’s done and the timeframe of a replacement plan being put in place still remain undetermined. They specifically used the graphic below from Vox.com to illustrate how difficult it would be for President Trump and the GOP to retain only the “popular” parts of ACA and throw out the rest, but confirmed that the least likely part of ACA to be lost would be coverage of pre-existing conditions—Trump has consistently said that this was the most valuable piece of ACA and that he would continue it in his presidency.

    Graphic from Vox.com

    Caldwell and Silvernale also discussed how soon ACA could be repealed, stating that it could potentially take until the end of the year, but again, everything is undetermined at this point since no one has offered up a solid replacement plan for consideration.

    A few items that were discussed in the Q&A portion of the town hall:

    • Colorado Care is up for repeal by the Colorado legislature. Ginal said she just saw a senate bill come up for repeal, that it is scheduled for review sometime in the next two weeks, and that it will start in the Senate and then go to the House. Ginal commented, “In our state, I don’t believe the exchange is going to go away for at least three years. It’s in a bill.”
    • The question was brought up about the possible future of Medicare, and both Caldwell and Silvernale talked about how Paul Ryan has suggested privatizing Medicare through a sort of competitive marketplace plan, but at this point, everything is still up in the air.
    • In regards to the cost of prescription drugs and how they could affect changes in the Colorado State Exchange, Ginal stated that she is optimistically cautious about progress that could be made with pharmaceutical companies and lowering prices on drugs.
    • When asked how repeal and changes to the American Care Act could affect the LGBTQ community, the representatives from CHI noted that ACA Section 5057 currently prohibits discrimination based on gender and gender identity (and extends to sexual preference cases), and if repealed, that protection would go away. Also, ACA ensures that if an insurer recognizes coverage for couples of different sex, they have to recognize for couple of same sex. Potential indirect effects of losing ACA include loss of Medicaid coverage and loss of mental health services.
    • Asked about recommended media sources that they felt we could trust for more information, Caldwell and Silvernale recommended the Colorado Health Institute weekly blog, following administration heads on Twitter, The Weeds (a podcast from Vox.com), and locally, The Coloradoan.

    Another item of note that we will continue to look into and keep you updated on: When asked about the how the repeal of ACA would affect women’s health in Colorado, Rep. Ginal stated that just that day, five anti-abortion bills were introduced, at least one by Rep. Patrick Neville (House District 45). We will update this issue as we find out more, but the largest point made by Ginal was that these types of proposed bills are already more frequent that they have been in the past.

    Longtime political activist Elizabeth Hudetz, who just recently announced her intent to run for Fort Collins mayor, was also in attendance as an audience member and was available afterwards for any questions. We were able to chat with her for just a short bit and plan on sitting down for coffee and finding out how she plans to change and improve policy here in Fort Collins. You can find out more about Elizabeth and her campaign here, and we will be doing a short feature here on the site soon.

    Leave a comment if there are any questions we can get answered for you, and mark your calendar for the next Town Hall Meeting with Rep. Ginal on February 17th, where the focus will be on education in Colorado.