Panorama: No Health Assurance

November 25 2008, 10:47 AM

Mile-High Headlines for Tuesday, November 25 Sign up here to receive Panorama every weekday morning--before it's published on our website. Nurse Crisis Denver Health Medical Center's cost of providing care to uninsured patients is expected to rise by $75 million, a high price tag that could force cutbacks at the hospital just as poorer patients arrive in higher numbers. That's according to The Denver Post, which reports that Congresswoman Diana DeGette, a Democrat, is pushing for changes to help public hospitals that are typically beset by uninsured patients. In southern Colorado, NewsChannel 13 reports that expanded hospital facilities lack doctors and nurses, a trend foreshadowing a potential crisis in the years ahead. For instance, the average age of a nurse in Colorado is 47, and 17 percent of nurses expect to retire within five years. Just 7 percent of Colorado's nurses are younger than 30. One nurse interviewed by News 13 fears that one day the nurses who care for her will be short-handed, burned-out, and lack experience. Tom Daschle, who is rumored to be appointed President-elect Barack Obama's secretary of health and human services, will visit Denver next month for a health care summit, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Plan of Action "In the midst of the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression," the Denver Business Journal reports, Colorado's lawmakers hope to help stabilize the economy at a time when consumer confidence is very low and unemployment is at its highest rate since 2004. A committee tasked with job and economic growth will issue an "action plan" six weeks after the Legislature convenes in January, but Todd Herreid, chief economist for the state's nonpartisan Legislative Council, wonders how effective state lawmakers can be, according to The Denver Post, noting that Colorado's economy is linked to the downturned national economy. "It's like a tractor beam pulling us into the spaceship," he says. While Democrats, who control the Legislature, favor investments in education and transportation, Republicans are calling for fewer regulations on industry, particularly the oil-and-gas industry. Some good news: Colorado remains one of the top states for technology, according to the Northern Colorado Business Report, although things aren't as good as they've been in past years.

Bleak Friday Studies predict people will spend less on presents for the holidays, though how much less is not known. The deep discounts popping up well before Black Friday, which comes the day after Thanksgiving and is typically the year's biggest shopping day, are one indication that things will be bad for retailers, according to 7News. Got your eye on one of those high-def televisions? The sales prices on them have fallen by about half since 2005, according to the Rocky Mountain News. You can probably bag one for about $735, not counting any desperate holiday sales. According to 9News, the bright lights and cheer at Belmar's shopping district mask fears by retailers, some already offering discounts up to 50 percent. Faring Relatively Well? Thanksgiving week will probably be busy at Denver International Airport, but not as hectic as last year. Airlines have booked more than 929,000 flights between today and next Monday, which is down from 950,000 during the same period a year ago, according to The Denver Post. The economy is to blame, yet this travel season is shaping up to be the third busiest Thanksgiving in DIA's 13-year history. If you booked your flight early to get a good fare but now need to change because something has come up, read The New York Times, which takes a closer look at differences in draconian airline policies. For example, Frontier Airlines eliminated standby over the summer, meaning travelers who miss their flight might "forfeit the value of their ticket." Yet the Denver Business Journal reports that Frontier, citing customer feedback, has suddenly changed the policy and will charge travelers a flat $75 to make same-day flight changes. Two Tales of One Tiny Plane Crash Jason Patton's newly purchased, $20,000 Kitfox Classic 4 experimental airplane was primed, and the skies were clear over Boulder Municipal Airport's Runway 8 on Monday. But just after takeoff, there was trouble: a propeller spinning in reverse. The plane banked hard and, as Boulder's Daily Camera writes, "like a scene" from a James Bond flick, 37-year-old Patton leapt from the plane the instant before it smashed into a field near the airport, then burst into flames, sparking a one-acre grass fire. That's the account of two eyewitnesses--friends of Patton who were there to cheer him on. Another version of the story is less spectacular. It's the one Patton tells police: The plane comes to a rest, he steps out, and then it bursts into flames. Patton narrowly missed some nearby houses, according to 9News, and was not taken to the hospital after the incident. Federal air safety officials are investigating. Favre and the Champ As The Denver Post notes, the last three quarterbacks to take on the Denver Broncos' defense weren't exactly among the National Football League's "elite." Yet Cleveland's Brady Quinn, Atlanta's Matt Ryan, and Oakland's JaMarcus Russell outgunned them with the precision of a veteran like Brett Favre. And that's kind of a bad thing since Favre is coming to Denver with his New York Jets on Sunday. The Jets are looking good--perhaps as good as they were in the 1968 season, when Joe Namath took the team to Super Bowl III as underdogs and won. The Broncos are left hoping solid cornerback Champ Bailey will return to the lineup on Sunday. He's missed four full games since injuring his groin. New Bloom Former University of Colorado football star Jeremy Bloom didn't have a good run in the National Football League. The two-time Olympic ski champ who went to school in Loveland was cut from the Pittsburgh Steelers this summer. But now the 26-year-old, 5-foot-9-inch, 180-pound athlete is working out with the U.S. ski team, according to The Associated Press (via the Washington Post), a move that could restore him to freestyle skiing in time for the 2010 Vancouver Games. Remembering a High School Soccer Star Christopher Kendall Reagan, an 18-year-old soccer star at Legacy High School, was remembered in a vigil last night, following his death in a weekend highway accident. Reagan had tried to sprint across I-25 before midnight on Saturday, when he was hit by a semitrailer, a Broomfield police sergeant told the Rocky Mountain News. The truck veered away, but Reagan was struck by its rear wheels. Only minutes prior, Reagan had crashed his silver sports car on a concrete median near 160th Avenue, but he didn't appear headed to a place where he could seek help, according to witnesses. Videodose: "Jet Man" Eric Scott successfully hovered across the Royal Gorge yesterday--1,500 feet across and 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River. Wearing a jet pack on his back, he had no parachute and only enough fuel for 33 seconds. The stunt was captured by this CBS4 video. Cheapest Gallon of Gas 'Round Here: $1.50, Pecos Sunmart, 7170 Pecos Street (via www.gasbuddy.com). Email relevant articles to [email protected].