Afternoon headlines April 10, 2017

Two more top-tier Democratic candidates launched bids for governor this week, ensuring a energetic open primary, something that hasn’t taken place for almost two decades.

Six-term Congressman Ed Perlmutter of Arvada kicked off his gubernatorial campaign from a Natural Grocers in Golden Sunday and former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy announced her own candidacy Monday, going the digital route on Facebook live.

Both candidates are touting their commitment to public education and building schools. Perlmutter reminded voters of his leadership in a 2004 bond election in Jefferson County, which resulted in one of Colorado’s largest school construction initiatives. Kennedy touted her leadership on the 2008 Building Excellent Schools Today, or BEST, program while state treasurer, which which continues to fund through competitive grants the construction of new schools and renovate aging ones across the state.

The two candidates join former state Sen. Michael Johnston and Intertech Plastics CEO Noel Ginsburg in the race along with a handful of other lower-profile Democrats who have filed paperwork. They are Adam Garrity, Moses Humes, and Michael Schroeder.

A number for Garrity listed in his official campaign paperwork did not work. A man who answered a phone number listed in campaign paperwork for Humes said he was not Humes and did not know why reporters had been calling him. In a phone interview, Schroeder said he is highly educated in fiberglass composites and is currently in Arizona working on a big corporate deal with patents he owns.

Kennedy is the only woman in the race so far on the Democratic side.

Despite some acrimony over sanctuary cities, next year’s state budget cleared the Colorado House this morning on a largely party-line vote.

The House’s 37 Democrats voted for it along with one Republican, Representative Bob Rankin of Carbondale, who is a member of the Joint Budget Committee that crafted the budget. Lawmakers spent two days debating the budget over issues like tax incentives for film companies to make movies in Colorado, a grant program that would put sixteen million dollars into affordable housing along the Front Range, and assistance to rural hospitals.

One of the biggest fights was sparked by a conservative Latino lawmaker from Colorado Springs who sought to strip funding from so-called sanctuary cities, or cities that the new administration deems uncooperative with attempt to detain unauthorized immigrants.

Representative Dave Williams stalled the budget debate Thursday night by asking that the budget bill – all 630 pages of it – be read at length, a response to his amendment being denied a vote.

The budget bill now goes back to the Joint Budget Committee, which will resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions. It’s expected to head to the governor for signing within the next 10 days.

Coloradans frustrated with the high costs of primary health care, take heed: A bill to protect a lower-cost model heads today to the state House floor after passing committee in both chambers.

Primary care physicians across the country are increasingly turning towards a payment model called Direct Primary Care, which allows patients and their primary care doctors to enter into payment agreements without billing traditional insurance. Proponents say the model removes administrative burdens and leads to lower costs. Much like a gym membership, patients pay a monthly fee of about $70 and receive access to primary care without copays or deductibles.

There are currently 600 such practices operating across the U.S., and more than 10 percent are in Colorado. Senate sponsor Senator John Kefalas, says the bill is meant to clarify the purpose of Direct Primary Care agreements and ensure that the model is allowed to advance here.

The Affordable Care Act requires that patients purchase health insurance or incur a penalty, so Direct Primary Care providers typically recommend that patients also purchase insurance. But, they say, the model allows patients to buy higher-deductible plans, knowing that they will be able to afford many routine visits and treatments.

“Use insurance for high dollar things, like hip replacements,” said physician and Direct Primary Care provider Clint Flanagan during Senate committee testimony in late March. He says the model allows physicians to stop spending one to two hours a day billing, which he says, ”truthfully we shouldn’t be doing in family medicine.”

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