Gov Signs Esgar Bills to Help End Surprise Medical Billing & Address Opioid Crisis

(May 14) – Today, Gov. Polis signed legislation sponsored by Rep. Daneya Esgar to help end out-of-network medical billing and address the opioid crisis.

“I’m proud we were able to ensure Coloradans aren’t dealing with these surprise medical bills through no fault of their own,” said Rep. Esgar, D-Pueblo. “This is a big, bipartisan win for consumers and hardworking families and a solution to a problem. We responded to the concerns of families, individuals and seniors who have been hit by these surprise and all too often – expensive surprise medical bills.”

The bill was signed at the Pueblo Community Health Center this afternoon.

HB19-1174 Prohibits providers from charging exorbitant amounts for out-of-network care when the patient unknowingly went out of network. It also requires providers to inform consumers of their rights regarding bills sent to them by out-of-network providers. The bill does not prohibit patients from incurring out-of-network costs when they intentionally go out-of-network for their care but puts safeguards in place to prevent unexpected medical bills in these situations.

Out-of-network bills can be more than 30 times the average in-network rate. Fifty-seven percent of patients who encountered out-of-network bills paid the bills in full because they didn’t know of their right to fight these bills.  This legislation is meant to help control costs in out-of-network billing situations by setting a reasonable rate of payment for these providers and facilities. The bill was also sponsored by Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose.

The Governor also signed bipartisan bill HB19-1287 to help address the opioid crisis in Southern Colorado at the Crossroads Treatment Clinic in Pueblo.

“There are significant barriers for individuals who are seeking treatment and want to be in recovery. This bill will give them the tools to break down these barriers,” Rep. Esgar said. “People often encounter barriers when trying to access treatment to overcome their addiction. This new, bipartisan law puts a system in place that is ready to help Coloradans navigate treatment and recovery options and a system that works for everyone involved.”

HB19-1287 now directs the Department of Human Services to implement a web-based tracking system to track available treatment capacity at behavioral health facilities and at programs for medication-assisted treatment and medical detoxification for substance use disorders.

This law also directs the Department of Human Services to implement a care navigation system to assist individuals to obtain access to treatment for substance use disorders, including medical detoxification and residential and inpatient treatment.

Lastly, the new law creates a grant program for substance use disorder treatment in underserved communities to provide services in rural and frontier communities, prioritizing areas of the state that are unserved or underserved. The bipartisan law is a product of the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Interim Committee.

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