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Colorado On Track To Meet Healthcare Deadlines

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States have until the end of the year to enact the final provisions of the Affordable Care Act, barring any last-minute extensions, before the law is fully implemented in 2014.

The biggest pieces of the healthcare law still being worked out include expanding healthcare assistance for the poor, and the development of health insurance marketplaces called exchanges.

Dede de Percin, Executive Director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, says in both cases Colorado is ahead of most the nation.

"Colorado is fortunate in that we’re one of 17 'leader states' that are on track to get their exchange up and running by 2014, which means we’ll have an exchange that is really uniquely suited to the people of Colorado and the small businesses," says de Percin. "The states that haven’t been able to be on track, or have delayed are either going to end up with a federal exchange, or a partnership with a federal exchange."

In December, Colorado received conditional approval from the federal Department of Health and Human Services to establish its own exchange.

On the issue of expanding Medicaid coverage for low-income Coloradans, de Percin says it's shortsighted to focus only on the cost of the expansion, which will be covered by the federal government for the first three years.

“I think the Governor, in his announcement, really feels like they’ve looked at the cost, and the cost-benefit, and the huge amount of revenues that it will bring into the state, the multiplier effect for the number of jobs it will create -- as well as the 160,000 people that will get new coverage.”

De Percin says many other states view Colorado as a model for moving forward on legislation in a bipartisan way.

As host of KUNC's Colorado Edition, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. And because life is best when it's a balance of work and play, I love finding stories that highlight culture, music, the outdoors, and anything that makes Colorado such a great place to live.
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