Newell to serve on interim health care committees

Posted 6/17/09

Being a freshman legislator isn’t easy. For some it takes a while to learn the ropes — battling pressure from lobbyists, constituents and the …

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Newell to serve on interim health care committees


Being a freshman legislator isn’t easy.

For some it takes a while to learn the ropes — battling pressure from lobbyists, constituents and the other party, all the while trying to master the Capitol’s rules and procedures.

But State Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, jumped into legislative service with gusto, serving on the Health and Human Services committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Local Government committee.

She carried six bills (each legislator is usually allowed to carry up to five), all of which passed through their respective committees or Senate floor with significant support. She also was the prime Senate sponsor for five more bills starting in the House and co-sponsored several others.

On June 15, Senate President Brandon Schaffer appointed Newell to two interim committees which will examine important health care issues before the start of next session in January 2010.

The first meeting of the Hospice and Palliative Care Committee is July 8. Newell also will serve as vice chair on the Severe Developmentally Disabled Children Waiting List committee.

“I have always been a champion for children and an advocate for vulnerable populations,” Newell said. “Since they can’t be at the podium, I speak out and work on the bills that matter most to them. I vowed to be the voice of those who need a voice at the Capitol and am looking forward to the important work these interim committees will do this summer.”

The Hospice and Palliative Care Committee will study barriers and disincentives that prohibit or prevent patients from receiving care during chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

Other topics the committee will consider include:

Barriers to accessing and utilizing care in urban and rural areas.

Economics and cost savings of care, including the cost savings of Medicaid residential level of hospice care in a hospice facility.

Coverage of care under private health insurance and Medicaid plans, including the Colorado Indigent Care Program.

Oversight of the quality of hospice and palliative care programs in the state.

Factors contributing to ethical dilemmas at the end of life and methods to reduce those factors, including clarifying laws and regulations governing advance directives.

Factors limiting the efficacy of the provision of hospice and palliative care, including laws and regulations pertaining to the legal pronouncement of death.

“As the Senate sponsor for House Bill 1103 this year helping with the hospice and long-term care eligibility process, I became acutely aware of the obstacles people face as they enter into the last phase of their lives,” Newell said.

“I hope to help preserve their dignity, ease and peace during this delicate time.”

Newell and the Severe Developmentally Disable Children Waiting List committee will work to address the home-and-community-based services waivers waiting list.

The waivers were created to address specific needs for children who qualify for a “nursing home level of care.”

The committee will primarily study why such large waiting lists exist for the home-and-community-based service waivers, and discuss strategies for reducing the list.

There are more than 900 children with chronic, long-term disabilities waiting for access to various service waivers, and families are told it will be years before their children will be able to access vitally necessary health care services, according to the General Assembly’s House Joint Resolution 09-1026.

According to the resolution, it is more cost effective for the state to provide services and allow children to live at home with their families whenever possible, saving the state costly hospital or institutional-level care.

To contact Sen. Newell, visit


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