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Colorado first state to require some health insurance plans to cover gender-affirming care

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Colorado first state to require some health insurance plans to cover gender-affirming care

Starting in 2023, health insurance plans covering about one-quarter of the market in Colorado will have to pay for gender-affirming care, some additional mental health services and pain-management alternatives like acupuncture.

The changes will affect plans sold on the individual and small group markets — so it won’t apply to people who get their insurance from large employers or government programs like Medicare.

Gender-affirming care is an umbrella term for services to transgender or nonbinary people, which can include hormone treatments, permanent facial hair removal, counseling, speech therapy, or surgery. Cisgender people sometimes also seek gender-affirming care, such as breast reconstruction after a mastectomy (though they may not think of it in those terms).

The state legislature would need to act in order to require large employers’ insurance plans to cover gender-affirming care.

Transgender people who have received gender-affirming care have lower rates of depression than those who were denied care, and are less likely to report thoughts of suicide.

Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway estimated the new benefits will cost about 64 cents per customer each month. Gov. Jared Polis said in a news conference that they will ultimately save money by reducing the odds of serious mental health problems in the future.

“I had to convinced this will save more than 64 cents per month,” he said.

The requirement that plans cover an annual mental health check-up and alternatives to opioids came from bills passed in the most recent legislative session, which also require large-group plans to offer the same coverage. The gender-affirming care requirements came from an administrative process, with the Division of Insurance consulting with stakeholders before asking the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for permission.

Sen. Brittany Pettersen, a Jefferson County Democrat, said the requirement to cover non-drug pain treatments, like acupuncture, will give patients options to avoid the risk of addiction from opioids. Some studies have found acupuncture provides pain relief, though debate is ongoing about how much of the improvement is due to a placebo effect.

“For decades, we had a system that incentivized overprescribing,” she said. Doctors “often talk about, ‘This (opioid medication) is the only thing covered by insurance.’ That is unacceptable.”

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Column: Justin Fields is set to return against the Green Bay Packers — and the rookie quarterback is in search of a little respect for the Chicago Bears

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Column: Justin Fields is set to return after missing 2 games with cracked ribs — and the Chicago Bears and their rookie quarterback are in search of a little respect

Justin Fields has the same vibe that most Chicago Bears fans have come to experience.

They’re not getting any respect.

The only thing the rookie quarterback and the Bears (4-8) can do to change the narrative is to win some of their five remaining games, beginning Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers (9-3) at Lambeau Field.

Fields this week was medically cleared to return from three cracked ribs and will start against the Packers after being knocked out of the Nov. 21 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and missing the next two games.

“I just think a lot of the times teams maybe don’t respect us or don’t give us credit,” Fields said. “I mean, you can’t blame them. We messed up sometimes in the games and we’ve pretty much messed up in a lot of games. … We’re going to attack every game like it’s our last game and we’re going to play through it all.”

The Bears are not getting much respect from the oddsmakers in Las Vegas as 12½-point underdogs, but that comes with the territory in this series. The Packers have won the last five meetings and 20 of the previous 23.

Maybe the Bears can sneak up on the Packers or other remaining opponents — the Minnesota Vikings (twice), New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks. The Bears figure to be favored only against the Giants.

“It feels good,” Fields said. “I like being the underdog. It just gives me an extra chip on my shoulder. I like when people doubt me. That just gives me a little extra motivation. So I love it.”

Being an underdog is new for Fields — he was 20-2 as the starter at Ohio State — but it’s all part of his maturation process in the NFL. The most important thing: He was cleared, meaning the Bears do not believe he’s at risk for more serious injury.

Fields said he’s still not certain when the injury occurred against the Ravens and didn’t believe it was on his final play. He said he normally wears protective padding on his midsection and will do so against the Packers.

“I’m going to have to be smart this upcoming game with not taking as many hits as I usually do,” he said.

“There’s pain there, but I mean, the pain’s just not unbearable. I know there’s going to be pain there, but it is what it is. As long as it’s just not crazy pain where I can’t bear it, I’m going to play and practice.”

Fields threw for 174 yards and a touchdown with one interception and four sacks when the Packers defeated the Bears 24-14 on Oct. 17 at Soldier Field. That started a five-game losing streak, and the organization has been in turmoil since.

The best way to calm the storm, if only temporarily, would be to stun the Packers, and the only chance the Bears have of rolling off some victories in the stretch run is getting their offense rolling.

“We really feel like he was improving as the games went by for him individually, our team, our offense,” coach Matt Nagy said. “There are still places where we can certainly improve. As a staff, we felt like we were really getting a good feel for where he was, and then he gets injured. So then for him to come back against a big division opponent and rival, I know that he’s excited for it.”

Meanwhile, Nagy was cryptic when describing a left hand injury that kept Andy Dalton out of practice Wednesday. Nagy declined to say whether Dalton suffered a broken hand, which a source said was the fear. The team plans to evaluate Dalton’s pain tolerance and possible swelling to determine if he or Nick Foles will serve as the No. 2 quarterback in Green Bay.

The Bears hope two weeks on the sideline gave Fields a different perspective that allowed him to get a slightly better feel for what to expect from opposing defenses — and maybe small elements of situational football that he can apply while he searches for the consistency that has been missing for the offense.

“I think he’s just, like most young players, you sometimes have got to go through some ups and downs and navigate your way through that,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “But he’s a very confident guy. He’s obviously very, very talented, not only as a thrower, but he’s got the added element that you can’t account for — his ability to make the off-schedule play.

“He’s more comfortable in what they’re doing. He’s a heck of a challenge to defend.”

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Key stretch of Santa Fe closed Thursday morning following police chase

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Key stretch of Santa Fe closed Thursday morning following police chase

Officials closed Santa Fe Drive between Mineral Avenue and County Line Road on Thursday.

The closure began around 4 a.m. when a police chase ended in a crash.

Denver7 reported multiple suspects in custody after Douglas County authorities chased what they say was a stolen vehicle.

The chase ended after the car’s tires were blown out with stop sticks.

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Tractor-trailer and vehicle on fire on WB 270 at Lindbergh

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Tractor-trailer and vehicle on fire on WB 270 at Lindbergh

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Members of the St. Louis County Police Central Precinct will be saying farewell to one of their own Thursday at the visitation for fallen police officer Antonio Valentine.

He was driving an unmarked police vehicle on Wednesday, December 1 when a black sedan traveling at a high rate of speed crashed into it near Crete Drive and Chambers Road in Bellefontaine Neighbors. Moments before the crash, Drug Unit Detectives attempted to stop the sedan for an investigation.

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