CCHI’s 6th annual CVC Conference: Going for the Gold! Celebrating Success and Training for the Future was fantastic! While celebrating the successes of Colorado’s first open enrollment period, people from all across Colorado and national speakers constructively discussed what we could do when preparing for the next open enrollment period and how we can tackle tough issues like affordability and health literacy. 

We had such great speakers for our 6 breakout sessions, our keynote, and our lunch panel, and on top of that had a packed house of amazing, intelligent attendees. We won’t recap the entirety of the day, but below you will find the Powerpoints and hand-outs from the CVC conference.

Our keynote speaker, Heather Howard, discussed the successes of Colorado and gave a broad overview of what happened nationally and some of the lessons Colorado can take away.  Heather lauded Colorado’s pathway to a streamlined application process, and answered questions about health care affordability. She also highlighted the success other states have had by fast tracking enrollment in Medicaid and offered it as an idea to further improve Colorado’s enrollment. The State would accomplish this through automatically enrolling qualifying Coloradans in Medicaid who currently receive aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

We had national speakers bring their enrollment experiences from other states to the conference. Kentucky had the highest rate of enrollments in rural areas nationally. Cara Stewart, the Health Law Fellow at Kentucky Equal Justice Center, explained it was all about the outreach: “you have got to find non-traditional partners, go where the people are.” She went to churches, sporting events, bars, and fairs to speak about the law and the upcoming open enrollment period. Marcia Dávalos brought some great ideas from her experience reaching Latino small business owners across Southern California in her role with the Small Business Majority. She emphasized having culturally responsive communications and finding or creating events that are culturally appropriate. Emily Polak from Community Catalyst discussed the importance of one-on-one assistance, a lesson echoed across the nation.

Christie Donnor with the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Clayton Scherf with the GLBT Center, and Mirna Castro with Servicios de la Raza hosted an insightful and unique panel on connecting underserved populations to coverage. Donner explained that the criminal justice population is fluid and will churn on and off Medicaid eligibility based on bail bonds, jail, and probation. With all these underserved populations, cultivating the culture of coverage is one of the most challenging aspects of getting these populations enrolled.

Steve Erkenbrack, CEO and President of Rocky Mountain Health Plans, Jessica Dunbar, Eligibility Director at Connect for Health Colorado, and Elisabeth Arenales from the Colorado Center on Law Policy spoke about the future of Connect for Health Colorado. With Colorado successfully through the first open enrollment period, this panel looked at the future of our state-based marketplace. Steve Erkenbrack emphasized the health insurance carriers are striving to create plans and systems that better deliver care. Jessica Dunbar detailed how Connect for Health Colorado is working to create a more streamlined experience for their consumers applying for financial assistance and to upgrade their shopping pages to better meet consumers needs. Finally Elisabeth Arenales emphasized the importance of ensuring that all consumers, regardless of health condition, have affordable health insurance plan options available to them.

Marc Reece with the Colorado Association of Health Plans, Edie Sonn from the Center for Improving Value in Health Care, and Katherine Blair, Senior Policy Advisor for Health, Office of Governor Hickenlooper spoke about the issue that is of upmost importance to consumers when purchasing health insurance—cost. Marc Reece spoke about all the components that comprise a health insurance plan and the challenges of providing care to consumers while also shielding them from the high costs of emergencies. Edie Sonn provided a sneak-peak of a new consumer tool from the All Payers Claim Database, which will help consumers be better informed about costs of procedures at different hospitals. Finally, Katherine Blair went over some of the issues Colorado has recently faced like the varying costs of insurance across geographic regions. This conversation is the beginning of a larger conversation Colorado will be having over the next year through the Commission on Affordable Health Care created by Senate Bill14-187. 

What a day! It was the start of an important conversation about celebrating what Coloradans have accomplished and identifying how we continue improving and leading on health reform in Colorado. We would love to hear your feedback and connect with you if you have any new ideas you’d like to share or think CCHI could partner on. Any comments and suggestions can also be sent to

Conference Materials


Speaker Bios

Cut the Cost 2015

Rate Review Info grapic

CCC Health Insurance Checklist

CCC Health Care Guide 


Heather Howard, Program Director, State Network

Cross Training: Enrollment Lessons from Other States

Marcia Dávalos, Southern California Outreach Manager, Small Business Majority 

Emily Polak, State Advocacy Manager, Community Catalyst

Cara Stewart, Health Law Fellow, Kentucky Equal Justice Center

Next Stage in the Relay: Connect for Health Colorado

Elisabeth Arenales, Health Program Director, Colorado Center on Law and Policy

Jessica Dunbar, Director of Eligibility, Connect for Health Colorado

Steve ErkenBrack, President and CEO, Rocky Mountain Health Plans

Lunch Keynote Speakers

Senator Irene Aguilar

Patty Fontneau, Executive Director and CEO, Connect for Health Colorado

So You Got Insurance, Now What? Health Literacy 

Peg Brown, Deputy Commissioner, Colorado Division of Insurance

Julia Hutchins, CEO, Colorado HealthOP

Abraham Morales, Senior Associate, Hispanic Insights, SE2

Reaching for the Finish Line: Connecting Underserved Populations to Coverage

Mirna Castro, Manager, Coalition for Culturally Appropriate Response and Enrollment Services, Servicios de la Raza

Christie Donner, Executive Director, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition

Clayton Scherf, Healthcare Enrollment Program Manager, The GLBT Community Center

Making Health Care Affordable for All Coloradans: Curbing Health Care Costs

Katherine Blair, Senior Policy Advisor for Health, Office of Governor John Hickenlooper

Marc Reece, Associate Director Colorado Association of Health Plans

Edie Sonn, Interim CEO and VP of Strategic Initiatives, Center for Improving Value in Health Care 

Building a System that Works for the Newly Enrolled

Dave Chandra, Senior Policy Analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Alicia Haywood, Policy and Advocacy Manager, Colorado Rural Health Center

Sharon O’Hara, Executive Vice President, National MS Society – Colorado-Wyoming Chapter


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