Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN) is the unified voice for Colorado’s 20 Community Health Centers (CHC)s, who together provide quality, affordable health care to one in seven Coloradans. Every year, CCHN hosts the Policy & Issues Forum, bringing together CHC staff and advocates from across the state to discuss and learn about key health care policy issues affecting CHCs and their patients.

On February 17, 2021, key voices in Colorado health care policy joined CCHN’s virtual Policy & Issues Forum’s annual policy panel to discuss the current outlook of health care in Colorado, including the impacts of COVID-19, the critical role of CHCs, and what it all means for the people they serve.


Donald Moore, Moderator

CEO, Pueblo Community Health Center; Chair, CCHN Public Affairs Committee

Donald Moore opened the policy conversation by introducing the panelists and sharing that they will focus their remarks on the current policy environment, policy priorities, and CHC partnership opportunities.



Billy Wynne

Chairman, Wynne Health Group

Billy Wynne provided an overview of how the federal health policy landscape is unfolding under the new Biden administration and with the new shift in power in the Senate. He unpacked the key portions of the new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Bill currently moving through Congress:

  • Temporary measure to increase access to premium tax credits for those above 400% of poverty level.
  • Increase in value of subsidies.
  • New incentive for states to expand Medicaid
  • Funding for vaccines, testing, and workforce enhancement
  • Minimum wage increase

President Biden’s healthcare priorities this year are:

  • Special enrollment period for ACA.
  • Medicaid work requirements
  • “Family Glitch” in ACA
  • Implementation of surprise billing measures - rash of rules implementing that policy

Wynne Health



Elisabeth Arenales

Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Gov. Jared Polis

Elisabeth Arenales has been the Senior Policy Advisor for Governor Polis since January 2019, and is a well-known health policy expert in Colorado and around the country.

State Policy Priorities:

  • Ensuring that people who need wrap-around help with cost-sharing can get that
  • Targeting money toward “family glitch” and undocumented individuals
  • Looking at everything in health care through the lens of equity
  • Delivering integrated behavioral health services across the state
  • Planning for the serious issues that climate change brings to the health care landscape

Governor’s Office


LinkedIn Profile

Kim Bimestefer

Executive Director, Department of Health Care Policy and Financing

Kim Bimestefer shared details of the Medicaid landscape in Colorado including:

  • COVID-19 vaccine costs and billing
  • COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Planning
  • Health Equity
  • Innovation: telemedicine, prescriber tool, eConsults, Centers for Excellence, Hospital Transformation Program, Rural Assistance Fund, Nursing Home industry transformation
  • Program Priorities: maternal supports, diabetes, and complex case management

Department of Health Care Policy and Financing at


LinkedIn Profile



  • A federal relief bill, “COVID 5 Bill” is on its way, with a lot of health-related items and $7.6 billion for CHCs. Expect the proposed legislation to be opened up for other changes in the Senate because of the vague rules of how measures relate to the budget under the rules of reconciliation. Expect a second bill later on.
  • There continues to be a lot of energy among Democrats for a federal public option bill, but it will be difficult to get it passed in the current Congressional make-up. On the state level, Colorado may be in a position to be a leader for a state option.
  • Thinking about climate change and how it affects our health care landscape (fires, floods, air quality) is an issue on the horizon because it will probably be less than a century before we see another pandemic. How can we think through and plan for an ongoing set of serious issues?
  • HCPF wants to work collaboratively with CCHN on the details of the vaccine carve out for CHCs. And also working with RAEs to have an incentive program so that HCPF can lead the way to identify and target the most vulnerable Medicaid members. HCPF plans to announce this in a few weeks.
  • HCPF can see that CHCs, RHCs, and IHS aren’t catching up on Medicaid revenue after the March/April 2020 shut down at the same pace as all professional services.
  • Based on HCPF data, there’s less telehealth success in rural areas, and HCPF knows that telehealth impacts providers’ ability to pull in revenue. HCPF will be coming out with a report on telehealth in the next few weeks and may have some funding for rural providers.
  • Equity is top of mind for the state -- including around vaccine administration and Medicaid programs to address equity in maternity care among others.


At the end of the session Donald asked each attendee to SHARE ONE WORD that captured how they are feeling after listening to the panelists. This word-cloud captures those feelings.





Social Media: #ValueCHCs #CoCHCs

The panel is over, but your commitment to health care in Colorado isn’t.

As you continue your important work, consider these the next big questions in Colorado Health Care Policy.

What role do CHCs play in the changing national health care environment under a new administration?
How can CHCs work with state and federal partners to address ongoing health disparities?

The "NEW NORMAL" needs some soaking time and deep listening. Allow this Digital Storybook to take you back to the conversations, ideas and questions that emerged in our session.

  • Think about WHAT we talked about and then ask yourself the SO WHAT questions.
  • SO WHAT does this mean, SO WHAT needs my attention, SO WHAT might a next best step be?
  • Then ask, NOW WHAT? NOW WHAT might I do to incorporate a fundamental need into the things I am working on? NOW WHAT might I begin to listen for.

CCHN wants to support you by offering tools and conversations that help to build a full memory, help you share the information with your team so you can keep the momentum moving forward.

Digital Storybook by IDEA360