Last summer, I became a real Coloradan—I summited my first fourteener at Quandary Peak. Growing up in a city below sea level, climbing a mountain that is 14,265 feet high is a pretty big achievement for me! I recall how I felt when I looked up at the mountain from the beginning of the trail. The altitude was already affecting my ability to breathe—even though I was in good shape—and the sheer height of the mountain was daunting. I was scared, but at the same time, I was determined—so I put my head down and placed one foot in front of the other. I am proud to say that several hours later, I bagged the summit.
At this time last year, I felt the same anxiety when we recognized that Colorado was about to expand Medicaid to potentially hundreds of thousands adults without dependent children (AwDC). We recognized that in order to do this successfully, we would need to coordinate many people across the state, hammer out many details, and make some important decisions—all in the face of uncertainty. We did not know what this expansion would ultimately look like (and it ended up being much smaller than we anticipated), but we knew we had to get started. CCMU began the Connect Campaign to coordinate the work on this issue because we knew that working together was the only path to success. Sure enough, by placing one foot in front of the other, Colorado has moved ahead and launched the limited expansion in April of this year.
The program is now at capacity of 10,000 adults, and we view this as a successful beginning. We do recognize, though, that this initial, limited expansion was hardly the end of the journey. In 2014, there are much larger changes coming and it is important we use the time in 2013 wisely to ensure that we have a high-functioning Medicaid system and adequate access to care. The Connect Campaign is the perfect place to extend the conversation beyond AwDC to ensure an efficient and effective Medicaid overall.
We recently held a summit to discuss what we learned from the AwDC expansion and set the stage for the needed changes. It made the daunting task that much more doable when so many people from different organizations came together from across the state with a shared clarity of purpose and a willingness to move Colorado forward. One of my favorite quotes is, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Colorado has shown that what lies within us is a passion for doing what’s right for Coloradans who need health care, a drive to succeed no matter how difficult the task, and a willingness to work collectively to achieve our goals. The summit reminded me of Colorado’s exceptional fortitude, and why our ultimate vision is achievable.
Using our passion, collective energies, creativity, and determination, we will certainly move forward in 2013 towards a better Medicaid—a Medicaid that best meets the health care needs of the most vulnerable Coloradans. We invite you to join us; learn more about the Connect Campaign at http://connectcampaign.wordpress.com.