Well, it looks more and more likely that the last 45ish days of the Colorado Legislative session will have more to do with health care than the first 75 days did. This despite (or maybe because of?) the failure of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in Congress.

Hospital Provider Fee: We are waiting for a pending bill from Senator Sonnenberg to reclassifying the Hospital Provider Fee to reduce the negative impact on rural hospitals. Here is some recent press on the topic:

Republican Senate leader to back hospital provider fee change

Q&A: Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg on his decision to sponsor a hospital provider fee bill

Lt. Governor Donna Lynne’s efforts lead to the introduction of at least 4 bills to address health care costs, as follows:

  • HB1235 seeks to address higher health insurance premiums Colorado’s mountain region with a state tax subsidy that starts where the ACA leaves off – for those with incomes below 400 and 500% of FPL. The tax subsidy would bring the cost of insurance premiums down to 15% of income (and only those whose premiums are more than 15% of their income would be eligible.
  • HB1237 allows local governments to participate in the state employee health insurance plan for their employees. Some local governments are very small with high health insurance costs.
  • HB1286 requires health insurance carriers that contract with the state to provide group benefit plans to state employees to participate in the individual market through the health insurance exchange; provide plans to 2 counties in a geographic rating area with the highest premiums; and participate in Medicaid and CHP+.

These three bills all have their first hearing on Thursday, March 30 in the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee at 1:30 pm. 

The last bill from the Lt. Governor’s efforts is HB1236, which would require Colorado’s hospitals to submit certain financial information to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to increase transparency about hospital costs, profits, and uncompensated care. Despite hospital opposition, the bill passed its first committee by a vote of 7-4 on Thursday last week and will head to the House Floor for consideration this week.

Joint Budget Committee Stalls Health Care Bills Until After the Long Bill:

The JBC will be busy moving the budget bill for FY17-18 through the Senate and House over the next two weeks. The decided to delay their decision to introduce and carry two health care related bills until April 11, giving these two bills less than a month to move through the legislative process, if they decide to introduce them.

1.       Medicaid Accountable Care Collaborative. The JBC will consider carrying a bill to authorize and provide legislative and regulatory authority for the ACC Phase II.

2.       Marijuana Tax Cash Fund (MTCF). The JBC finished balancing the budget, but left over $30 million in the fund unspent, vowing to revisit the issue on April 11 and possibly carry a JBC bill to allocate these funds. Proposals to fund community based substance use disorder screening and other services from SB16-202 hang in the balance, awaiting the outcome.