Afternoon headlines January 5, 2017

Federal officials are calling on the state to refund almost 9.7 million dollars in federal grant money that was given to Colorado’s state run health exchange program.
An audit of the program, conducted by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, found that Connect for Health Colorado can’t provide the paperwork explaining how the program spent 4.4 million dollars on contractors and consultants.
The Denver Post reports that the audit also questions the choice to spent 4.5 million dollars to prepay for contracts that extend longer than the timeframe outlined in the grant funding parameters.
Federal auditors also say that there is insufficient documentation showing why more than 211-thousand dollars was spent on bonuses, why ten thousand dollars was spent on travel, and why some contractors were paid extra.
A spokesperson for Connect for Health Colorado told the Denver Post that for the most part they agree with many of the audit’s findings but they have implemented policies to improve their documentation. They also say they plan to dispute some of the grant funding the audit claims should be repaid.

A task force charged with looking at Colorado’s mental health hold law is calling on the state to stop using jails to house people placed on involuntary mental health holds who haven’t been charged with a crime.
Colorado is one of only six states that still put people having a mental health episode behind bars. Current law allows for a person on a mental health hold to be detained in jail for up to 24 hours. After that, they must go to a health facility for evaluation and treatment. The issue is that many rural areas lack mental health care facilities, resulting in sheriff’s departments having to decide to either drive the person to another town and leaving the community with one fewer law officer; hold the person in jail, or release them back to the community.
The task force released eight recommendations, including the creation of a “Mental Health Care Ombudsman Office” to serve as a watchdog. That office would ensure that people placed on mental health holds “receive proper care and protection” and would handle appeals and grievances from people with due-process concerns.
Another recommendation was to ensure each region of Colorado has enough mental health providers, including crisis-response workers.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado said today that he and several other Democrats are mounting an official challenge to Donald Trump’s victory.
The congressman said in a statement today that he feels compelled to question Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College because of concerns of Russian interference during last year’s campaign.
In his statement, Perlmutter described the hacking of the DNC emails as an unprecedented action by a foreign nation that violated our Constitution and undermined the founding pillars of American liberty and democracy.
Congress meets tomorrow to certify the results of the Nov. 8 election. To even have the ability to challenge the results however, requires at least one lawmaker from both the House and Senate — and the campaign currently has no Senate support.
Politico reports that if that help that materializes, Perlmutter is considered a definite to lodge a formal objection.

More than a foot of snow in the metro area shut down schools and city buildings in Boulder and led to delays in Denver.
Longmont recorded 8.5 inches of snow, Nederland saw 19 inches, Louisville recorded 8.8 inches, according to the National Weather Service.




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