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Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera in conversation at Axios' Health Care Vitals event. Photo: Danielle Lirette for Axios

This Tuesday, Axios' Sam Baker hosted an Expert Voices Live discussion in Denver, digging into the state of access and affordability in Colorado.

Why it matters: 25 state and local leaders — elected officials, experts in health care, health tech innovators, and advocates — discussed solutions to challenges in health care policy and providing equitable care.

Creating policy that serves all communities

A consistent theme throughout the morning's conversation was the importance of creating policy that could serve all communities and constituents, from individuals to businesses, rural to urban areas.

Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, State of Colorado

  • On the 360 degree view of health: "All roads lead to health...if you look at all the cabinets from Agriculture all the way up to State Veterans and Military Affairs. Every Cabinet plays some role in health... If people don't have access to food you know they're not going to be healthy...If you look at education, the further people go in school, the healthier they're going to be. If you look at the environment, [when people] don't have to live in toxic situations they're going to be healthy."
  • On creating affordability while maintaining quality: "We want to make sure that we keep in mind that health care is a three-legged stool right now. Affordability is one of the big barriers, but we can't also ignore quality. Prevention and wellness is a big part of it too."
  • On the importance of transparency in creating effective policy: "If we can pull the curtain back and try and figure out what's driving health care costs, then we can address those issues."
Axios Health Care Editor Sam Baker moderating Tuesday's discussion. Photo: Danielle Lirette for Axios
Opportunities for growth

How the government and private sector could make health care more accessible for patients with varied needs featured prominently in the conversation.

Julie Reiskin, Executive Director at the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition

  • On the relationship between lack of medical care and poverty: "Disrupting that is really an opportunity… It’s really hard to break those cycles."
  • On improved care for people with disabilities: "Prevention for us looks different, so it’s not necessarily that a ten dollar flu shot prevents a ten thousand dollar ER visit… But we see a lot of room for improvement in the dental space. [We need to find dental care providers] who can work on people in their chairs."

Kelly Brough, President and CEO of the Denver Chamber of Commerce

  • On the challenges of cost: “It doesn't actually get any better in any state than what you have right here [in Colorado]. And yet the cost of health care is unbelievable. And half of our residents get their health care from their employers. And what our employers tell us, regardless of size is ‘I can't afford it and my employees can't afford it.’”
Julie Reiskin, Executive Director at the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. Photo: Danielle Lirette for Axios

Melissa Bosworth, Principal at Vertical Strategies and Rural Healthcare and Non-profit Capacity Building at Culture of Health Leaders

  • On disparities in outside of major metropolitan areas: "There’s a lot more opportunity to do place-based policy...Accessibility and what that looks like is vastly different in rural communities. "

Michele Lueck, President and CEO at the Colorado Health Institute

  • On where the state is headed: "I think the focus right now on cost efficiencies and affordability through everything from end of life care to telehealth services...those are things that tell the community where we’re headed in the state."
Julia Hutchins, CSO of Apostrophe Health. Photo: Danielle Lirette for Axios
On innovation in the sector

How to continue pushing the private sector forward in partnership with advancing policy was discussed.

Mike Biselli, President of Catalyst HTI

  • How telehealth takes advantage of the tools people already have: "Eighty-seven percent of our Medicaid population across this nation has a smartphone in their pocket...the same number of with our V.A. population as well. And then you think about what is the most widely used application on your phone? Text message. That's why CirrusMD and the team are growing so fast because they unlock the power of that very simple tool on our smartphones."
  • "With technology, the innovation is the easy part. That stuff is ready to scale. It's built. Ready to go. It is policy getting in the way of these leaders to allow for us to drive innovations."

Thank you Delta Dental for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

6 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
8 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.