Summit County news briefs: Healthcare deadlines and debates | SummitDaily.com

Summit County news briefs: Healthcare deadlines and debates

Summit Daily Staff Report
news@summitdaily.com

Danielle McQueen, a health navigator at the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, walks a client through the online health insurance process at the nonprofit organization's Silverthorne office. The national deadline for acquiring qualifying health coverage to avoid the 2016 tax penalty is Jan. 31.

Healthcare enrollment deadline approaching

Individuals not enrolled in qualified health insurance by Jan. 31 will be facing a steep penalty of at least $695 (approximately $350 per child under 18) on their 2016 tax returns.

The Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) in Silverthorne provides free enrollment assistance with Colorado's Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid and CHP+ plans. Depending on income, many people qualify for discounts on plans, and FIRC's health navigators can assist with determining your eligibility.

"Nearly half of the people we have enrolled have qualified for Medicaid," Rob Rumrill, FIRC's community support manager, said in a news release. "Depending on your income, there is a good chance you will qualify for a low-cost plan or a plan discount."

FIRC asks individuals making an appointment at their office (251 W. 4th Street in Silverthorne) to bring in am ID, pay stubs and — for those with a Colorado Peak Program account either through Medicaid or food stamps — your state ID (not your driver's license) and case number (1B). Those who cannot locate these numbers should call Social Services at (970) 668-9160.

Colorado's Health Insurance Marketplace can be accessed at http://www.connectforhealthco.com, and, if applicants wish to determine if they qualify for a discount plan or Medicaid, visit http://www.coloradopeak.force.com.

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If individuals do not get insurance between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31, they will not be able to enroll again until November 2016. Aside from a date exemption for those who were covered under the Colorado HealthOP, which closed at the end of last year, in 2015, providing a Feb. 29 deadline to acquire qualifying insurance, the only way to enroll after Jan. 31 is with a "Qualifying Life Change" such as a new job, turning 26, the birth of a child, etc.

Those seeking assistance may schedule an appointment at FIRC's office by calling (970) 262-3888 or visiting http://www.summitfirc.org. Since open enrollment started in November, FIRC has enrolled nearly 500 people into a health insurance plan.

Skiers now have access to 'teleconcussion' service

Centura Health is now offering its "teleconcussion" service at medical sites in southern and northern Colorado to visitors and residents in Summit County.

From his office in Pueblo, Dr. Rocky Khosla, M.D., a family physician with additional certifications in sports medicine and brain injury medicine, recently collaborated with Jennifer Kagan, a trauma and emergency room nurse at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, to examine a high school athlete. The occasion via St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center marked the first teleconcussion case within the Centura Health system.

"I can't tell you how exciting this whole project is," Khosla said in a news release. "We now have the capability to manage (a) skier with the same consistent, comprehensive approach that you would expect from a state-of-the-art concussion management program without having to drive them back and forth hundreds of miles in potentially difficult driving conditions."

Increasing coverage of concussions related to football and winter sports has brought more public awareness to the subject. According to a 2011 article in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, "An estimated 15-20 percent of the approximately 600,000 annually reported skiing and snowboarding injuries are head injuries. Now with this new technology, "Telemedicine gives physicians like me the ability to help consult on concussed patients more rapidly, saving patients time, travel and hassle," said Khosla.

First two-sided 'ColoradoCare' Forum happening tonight in Frisco

Amendment 69 on the forthcoming state ballot, otherwise known as "ColoradoCare," proposes a single-payer, universal health-insurance plan that with it would come a $25 billion annual tax increase on residents.

Opponents of the proposed measure say it seeks to give an unaccountable, taxpayer-funded bureaucracy full control over health care that will be exempt of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, also known as TABOR.

State Sen. Irene Aguilar (D-Denver) and former state Sen. Jeanne Nicholson (D-Black Hawk), both advocates for the single-payer plan, and opponent Jonathan Lockwood, executive director of Advancing Colorado, will be featured in the educational symposium that includes opening statements, moderated questions, as well as opportunities for each side of debate to ask questions of each other and time for the audience to pose queries of their own.

Also featured as an opponent of Amendment 69 is Dr. Andrew Catron, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN from the Swan Mountain Women's Center in Breckenridge and who recently partnered with Kaiser Permanente for its members.

Local residents can attend a forum on the subject moderated by Community Care Clinic CEO Sarah Vaine on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Summit County Community and Senior Center (83 Nancy Place in Frisco).