CDOT will build a $5 million sprinkler system under the I-70 cap

The system includes heat sensors and video detection that would trigger the sprinklers if there are signs of a fire.

A burned truck on Interstate 25. (CDOT)
When this fuel tanker crashed and burned on I-25, it shut the highway for hours and did significant damage to the roadway. (CDOT)

What if this happened under the I-70 cap?

I saw this question on social media as a fuel tanker burned for hours on I-25 and then again when a truck on fire closed I-70

Medicaid cuts in Republican health care bill could cost Colorado $15 billion over 10 years, analysis finds

“How is Colorado going to respond to these very heavy Medicaid cuts? It’s probably going to be something that could even define the next governor’s term.”

Cuts to Medicaid in the Better Care Reconciliation Act — the Senate version of the House’s American Health Care Act — could cost Colorado as much as $15 billion over the next 10 years. That’s if the state wants to keep covering the more than 450,000 people who got insurance through the Medicaid expansion — and it might not be able to.

This analysis comes from the nonpartisan Colorado Health Institute in response to a “discussion draft” of the bill released Thursday, the first time anyone outside a small group of Republican senators saw the bill which is scheduled for a vote next week. Even U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner had not seen the bill on Wednesday, despite being part of a working group on health care policy, and on Thursday, he said he was still reading it to develop his position.

The Colorado Health Institute estimates that as many as 628,000 Coloradans could lose Medicaid coverage by 2030.

That impact will be felt most strongly in rural areas and could force state legislators to grapple with agonizing choices, according to the Colorado Fiscal Institute. That group released an analysis Thursday of the House version of the bill, most of which also applies to the Senate version. A lot more people in rural areas rely on Medicaid than in urban areas, so they face the brunt of cuts there, with ripple effects for hospitals and local economies. Urban areas, as well as Aspen and Vail, have more wealthy people, so they’ll get most of the benefit from the tax cuts also included in the bill.

What Colorado lawmakers are saying about the Senate draft health care bill

Colorado Democrats roundly condemned the bill, while Cory Gardner suggested that criticism now is based as much on partisanship as on substance.

A rally in support of Planned Parenthood at Skyline Park, Feb. 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rally; planned parenthood; abortion; protest; copolitics; skyline park; denver; kevinjbeaty; denverite; colorado
A rally in support of Planned Parenthood at Skyline Park in front of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s office, Feb. 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Republicans in the U.S. Senate released a “discussion draft” of a health care bill that analysts are describing as substantially similar to the House version passed earlier this year. The Better Care Reconciliation Act could come up for a vote as early as next week, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants a vote before senators break for the July 4 recess.

The bill would phase out the Medicaid expansion, change Medicaid to a per-capita cap program, repeal the individual mandate, cut taxes for the wealthy and cut funding for Planned Parenthood. It provides greater subsidies to buy insurance than the House version of the bill but nonetheless reduces subsidies compared to current law — and fewer people would be eligible at all.

The impacts locally could be huge, with analysts estimating the state could need to come up with as much as $1 billion a year to maintain Medicaid enrollment levels and reimbursement rates. Meanwhile, it’s not clear that the bill would do much to bring down premiums, which has been one of the chief complaints about the Affordable Care Act.

Colorado Democrats roundly condemned the bill, while Cory Gardner, the state’s Republican senator, asked for time to read it first and suggested that criticism now is based as much on partisanship as on the substance of the bill. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes and still pass the bill — and the math is already hard on that.

Here’s what Colorado lawmakers have said so far:

What’s the plan for Denver’s Montbello and Green Valley Ranch neighborhoods?

Some 60,000 people live in Denver’s Green Valley Ranch and Montbello neighborhoods, but if they want to buy anything, most drive to Stapleton or Aurora.

Construction in Green Valley Ranch. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) construction; development; green valley ranch; residential real estate; denver; denverite; colorado; kevinjbeaty;
Construction in Green Valley Ranch. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Some 60,000 people live in the Gateway-Green Valley Ranch and Montbello neighborhoods in northeast Denver, but if they want to buy anything, most of them drive to Stapleton or Aurora. Hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, Montbello was recently deemed one of the “hottest” suburban housing markets in the country, and prices are rising in what have traditionally been relatively affordable areas. And these neighborhoods also have some of the last real opportunities for “greenfield” development in Denver.

For these reasons and more, Denver chose these neighborhoods for the first area plan to be undertaken as part of the neighborhood planning initiative. This effort seeks to create small area plans that bring city policy in line with what residents want for their own communities; the goal is to create such plans for the entire city in 15 years. The Far Northeast Area Plan process kicks off with a community meeting Thursday night.

Low unemployment is hurting the economy and 4 other takeaways from Colorado’s most recent forecast

“It is absolutely essential that we get back up to our reserve level ahead of the next recession,” the governor’s budget director told lawmakers Tuesday.

Sunset over the city. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite; north capitol hill; cowx; weather; sunset; skyline; cityscape;
Sunset over the city. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

“So the executive summary is a smiley face?” state Sen. Kevin Lundberg asked as the Joint Budget Committee prepared to hear the latest forecasts from Colorado’s state economists Tuesday.

Not 100 percent a smiley face, but economic growth should continue to be positive in the near-term and significant legislation passed earlier this year has relieved a lot of pressure on the budget.

However, there are some surprising constraints on the state economy, an unexpected dip in revenue projections and plenty of uncertainty from Washington. And the 6.5 percent budget reserve that’s theoretically required by law isn’t fully funded.