What CO is Talking About: Health Care & Amazon

We’ve had so much going on and want to update you on two important items that the Chamber and its affiliates are working hard for you and Colorado on:

We oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill.

The Chamber joined with the 107 other organizations that make up the Colorado Health Policy Coalition in opposing the Graham-Cassidy amendment to the Affordable Care Act and urging Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner to do the same.

We helped bring together this coalition, whose organizations represent people in every county in Colorado, at the end of 2016 to ensure that Colorado’s priorities and health care needs influence and are reflected in federal policy.

Our Chamber, like the rest of the coalition, is opposing this bill for two important reasons: we have grave concerns about the policies in the proposal and the process being used to fast track it through Congress. For both of these reasons, we’ve asked our senators to oppose this proposal.

We are concerned by this amendment because:

The high cost for Colorado. The bill would end federal funding for the Medicaid expansion (of which Colorado participates) in 2027. The Colorado Health Institute estimates that the discontinuation of this funding, along with the move to block-grant funding, would mean $6 billion in lost federal funding to Colorado by 2026. Though the bill has not yet been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, we are seeing projected funding losses of $2.8 to $78 billion. We know that losing federal funding of this magnitude will have a crippling impact on our budget, economy and health care system – and we know when coverage is cut those costs often shift to the business community.

We don’t know the full impact. Our coalition agrees that moving forward without a robust public discussion or full analysis makes it impossible to have a thorough and thoughtful evaluation of impacts on coverage, cost and financial consequences for states. Should there be major changes to Medicaid, it could create significantly increased health care costs for Colorado’s private employers, financial losses to hospitals across the state, tremendous pressures on physicians who struggle to meet the demand for services under low reimbursement structures and significant uncertainty for Colorado’s state budget.

We’ll be following this legislation closely this week and are grateful so many of our members have shared their health care challenges and priorities with us so we can be confident we have your interest at heart.

Amazon’s HQ2 is a HOT topic.

Our Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, along with all of its regional partners and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, are working on one of the largest proposals we’ve ever seen, and you know which one I am talking about — Amazon’s HQ2 (second North American headquarters).

Here’s what we know about the project: Amazon will invest more than $5 billion and create as many as 50,000 new jobs over five years – and that’s not counting the additional growth and investment we’ll see created in the region. Requests for proposals are due on Oct. 19, and Amazon says it will make a decision about HQ2 in 2018. (We have a few months before we will know anything, so don’t hold your breath yet.)

Here’s why people (including the New York Times) are talking about Colorado as a top contender:

  • Our smart, healthy workforce: We’re home to the leanest, most active adults – and you’ve got plenty of brainpower, too, with the second most educated workforce in the country.
  • Our smart investments: From Denver International Airport to FasTracks, we know that how we get around the region and the world matters to our companies and their teams.
  • Our commitment to our sustainability: We know being green isn’t just something we add to our corporate mastheads – with our precious resources we know it’s an important part of how we do business here. It’s important to Amazon, too, and we can show them how our companies are walking the talk.
  • Our culture of leadership: We know that how we work matters as much as the work we do. That’s why we focus on inclusivity, collaboration, responsibility and vision in our leadership – it’s what we call Colorado’s Civic DNA™. Amazon is a thought leader that truly defines innovation. We know their leadership will feel right at home here.
  • Our quality of life: It’s no secret to us that Colorado is a great place to work – and to play. Whether hopping on a bike trail or gliding down a ski slope, our community loves to get outdoors. That’s something that makes us most akin to folks in Seattle, Amazon’s primary headquarters.

These strengths are what have driven our economic success and they matter to every company interested in relocating here. No matter what decision Amazon makes, we know that ensuring we can handle the growth is important for us to continue to address. We want to assure you that the commitment our board made to you at our annual meeting – to ask voters to address our state’s transportation funding needs – is still our top priority as we prepare for the November 2018 ballot.

Kelly Brough is the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber