Department News: Resources for your Membership
May 2018
Thank you for your continued patience as the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (the Department) works to transition this newsletter for its subscribers. 
Message from Kim Bimestefer, executive director
Last week, we held the kick-off press conference for the Lift the Label opioid anti-stigma event. More than one hundred press and industry leaders joined us. The speakers included me; Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer at the Department of Public Health and Environment; Reggie Bicha, executive director at the Department of Human Services; Governor Hickenlooper and two Coloradans sharing their personal stories of addiction and recovery.
This event solidified the State of Colorado's commitment to both preventing and treating opioid addiction.The Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (the Department) has been working to address challenges related to opioid overuse since 2012 .
At the peak of opioid overprescribing, there were enough opioids prescriptions written to have 1 bottle of narcotics in every household in America. Clearly, we had work to do to reverse these destructive trends.
Through our collaborative efforts, over the last three years we have seen a cumulative 30 percent reduction in both the number of pills prescribed to Colorado's Medicaid members and the number of our members taking opioids. This is outstanding progress in preventing addiction going forward. I know you and your provider members are committed to help prevent and reverse the damage opioid overuse and addiction is causing in our community. We thank you for that partnership.
While we continue to drive improved prescribing patterns to prevent addiction, we need to increase our energy and focus on helping our members who are addicted to opioids through their journey to recovery. You and your provider members are critical to our continued progress on that front. Our Medicaid members account for nearly 29 percent of opioid overdose deaths in Colorado. That is devastating, but it is just one indicator of the catastrophic impact that opioids are having on individuals and families across our community.
I ask you to help us stand strong to support Medicaid/Health First Colorado members struggling through opioid addiction. The first barrier to their recovery is the stigma attached to addiction. Help us show our Medicaid members and all those struggling with opioid addiction that there is no shame in reaching out for help - that it is the critical first step to recovery. Please join us in communicating that it would be our joint privilege to provide the treatment, care and support that our members need to transition out of this destructive chapter and to thrive through the months and years to come.

Labels are for packages. They're not for people. For more information about the kick-off event and the campaign to reduce the stigma associated to opioid addiction, please visit

Kim Bimestefer
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