A press release from the Chaffee County Community Foundation (CCCF) announced their excitement around the well-attended and well received January 8 public event introducing their work with Peak Health Alliance (PHA) to reduce health insurance costs and increase transparency. The information session began with a CCCF-hosted employer forum at the Rotary Scout Hut in Salida at which PHA presented their model for lowering health insurance premiums for Chaffee County residents as soon as 2021.

“At Peak, we believe that that communities need to feel empowered to address the unique healthcare challenges facing them,” said PHA CEO Tamara Pogue . “Because each county brings with it different circumstances, a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work in a purchasing alliance. Peak has succeeded because our model emphasizes the local control and leadership necessary to help citizens feel part of a locally-driven solution.”

Following this forum, PHA met with the Chaffee County steering committee, convened by CCCF, which will be responsible for community engagement. It will lead decision-making about how to negotiate with local providers, and ultimately, if and which carriers to use for Peak health plans in 2021 in the county.

PHA presented Chaffee County claims and Medicare report data to the steering committee, which selected two primary goals that will drive their work here in the county. This steering committee is comprised of local leaders including County Commissioner Rusty Granzella, and Director of Public Health Andrea Carlstrom.The committee first wants to increase the transparency and sense of ownership and voice of community members and employers with the health care providers and carriers. Second, the committee says it aims to be able to negotiate lower health insurance premiums to be available to Chaffee County residents for the 2021 coverage year.

The day ended with a meeting between the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC), PHA, and the steering committee. CCCF considered the meeting to be positive, with HRRMC continuing their role in the community as an innovator and health care partner by agreeing to work with PHA and the steering committee to pursue options which could be mutually beneficial.

The timeline moving forward with this work is extremely tight; driven by the state’s Division of Insurance’s May 31 deadline for insurance carriers to submit their 2021 rate and plan proposals. CCCF and the steering committee say they will work to engage community members, employers (both small group and self-funded), providers, and other stakeholders over the next six to eight weeks.

“I think everyone agrees our health care costs are too high,” said CCCF Executive Director Joseph Teipel. “I am truly excited and optimistic about this model and the potential it has to move the needle for Chaffee residents and employers towards greater transparency and lower premiums.”

The goal of this work is to get a significant number of Letters of Intent demonstrating interest from individuals and employers of all sizes in potential Peak health plans. The letter is non-binding and if you would like a copy, CCCF encourages those to visit www.chaffeecommunity.org/community-health.

Those looking for more information or ways to get involved, CCCF has encouraged those to reach out to their Executive Director by calling (719) 204-5071 or email at joseph@chaffeecommunity.org.