Headlines June 29, 2021

Headlines June 29, 2021

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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will phase out its large scale community vaccination sites in the coming days. The six existing sites in Mesa, Larimer, El Paso, Denver, Adams, and Pueblo counties will close by July 4th. Inoculation work will shift to providers like doctors, pharmacies and local public health agencies. The CDPHE says twelve percent of all vaccines given in the state were administered through these community sites and that transitioning to local providers will establish a working model for possible booster shot delivery in the future.

Low-Value Health Care in Colorado Costs $140 Million in Excess Spending

Colorado could save up to 140-million dollars annually, and reduce potential harm to patients, by minimizing so-called low-value health-care services – diagnostic tests, screenings and treatments where the risk of harm outweighs any likely benefits. Cari Frank with the Center for Improving Value in Health Care, the group behind a new report, points to opioid prescriptions for lower back pain as one clear example, where pain relief comes with the risk of addiction. She says a significant share of the costs of low-value services are passed on to patients.”Coloradans’ out-of-pocket cost was about $17 million (annually). Anybody receiving those low-value care services would have rather had that money in their pocketbook, especially during the downturn of the economy like we saw during COVID 19.”

Researchers sifted through potentially low-value health care claims for four-point-one million patients, and found that more than one in three were for services considered to be low-value care. They also found that over half of people who got low-value services received one or more that were wasteful or likely wasteful. Frank explains that many health care providers are simply not aware some practices come with disproportionate risks or costs.

Frank notes that every patient is different. Depending on your family history, pre-existing conditions or treatments tried in the past, she says some procedures flagged as low-value may actually be appropriate.

“And it may spit it out on the other side of the claim’s algorithm as potentially unnecessary, but there needs to be that back and forth and it needs to be the right thing for you as a patient. And you need to be having that conversation with your doctor.”

Some health providers, through medical boards and other professional associations, have worked to identify low-value services and offer guidelines for doctors through an initiative called Choosing Wisely. Frank says she’s hopeful that the data in her group’s report will be tapped by providers, insurance companies and other stakeholders to reduce health risks for patients, and help blunt the rising costs of health care.

– By Eric Galatas, Colorado News Service

BVSD and SVVSD End Free Food Distribution Programs

The Boulder Valley School District has ended its free food distribution program, which provided milk and bags of fresh and packaged food to families of students each Monday. The last day of the program, which began in response to the economic uncertainty of the pandemic, was yesterday. The Saint Vrain Valley School District ends its curbside food pickup program this Thursday. Families still experiencing food insecurity are being advised to seek assistance with local organizations that operate food banks in their city of residence.

New Denver Jail Food Contract

Denver’s City Council approved a controversial contract with a prison meals provider after only 15 minutes of discussion last night.

Denver County Sheriff’s Department officials promised oversight and accountability during the 15-minute discussion among the Denver City Council members, who voted 9-2 for the two-year, $9 million contract.

The Denver Post reports that the Sheriff’s Department’s Chief, Vincent Line, said the sheriff’s department will oversee all food service operations; that Aramark must meet health code standards and the jail and detention center will be subject to inspections and a third-party auditor will also examine the company.

There have been many issues with Aramark food service in jails throughout the country. Aramark has had problems in jails in Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio and Kentucky with the company being fined hundreds of thousands of dollars after reports of maggots in food. One prison riot in Kentucky reportedly stemmed from Aramark food services.

The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office has hired Aramark for at least 15 years with the contract being renewed every five years with Aramark’s bid coming in as the low bidder.

Aramark will serve about 1400 inmates each day, manage and supervise everything related to food service in the Denver county jail and downtown detention center. The contract begins this Thursday and runs through June 30, 2023.

Judge Denies Temporary Restraining Order Blocking NISP Permit Review Hearing

Monday, a district court judge in Larimer county denied a temporary restraining order and request for an emergency hearing filed by environmental groups in an effort to stop Fort Collins from holding a hearing June 30th that could advance a SPAR permit review for The Northern Integrated Supply Project or NISP water pipeline.

The preliminary injunction request was filed by Save the Poudre and No Pipe Dream in early June after a NISP application for a Site Plan Advisory Review process or SPAR review was submitted to the city of Fort Collins. An application Director of Save the Poudre, Gary Wockner doesn’t agree with.

“We think SPAR is not applicable to this project. The city’s land use code says in order to use SPAR the applicant has to own or operate on the property and right now Northern Water and NISP don’t own or operate anything on the property where they’re proposing to build a massive pipeline.”

The Northern Integrated Supply Project or NISP is a water development project decades in the making. It would divert 13 billion gallons of water annually to two new reservoirs in an effort to increase water supply in 15 Northern Colorado communities including Boulder and Weld County.

The judge explained the decision to deny the motion for a temporary restraining order and request for an emergency hearing saying “Regardless of the [June 30th] hearing’s outcome, no construction [on the NISP pipeline] will happen for years; therefore, [those opposed will] have ample time [to] challenge the results.”

In a statement Monday, Wockner said, “We respectfully disagree with the judge’s ruling. We will keep our lawsuit alive to overturn the decision to use SPAR for NISP.”

You can find a full report on NISP and the multiple legal challenges Save the Poudre has filed against it at news.kgnu.org.