3 Bills to Battle High Health Care Costs Advance

(March 8) – Three components of the House Democrats’ agenda to control soaring healthcare costs made successful debuts tonight in the House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee.

Two of the bills confront the spiraling cost of pharmaceuticals. Under HB18-1260, sponsored by Reps. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, and Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora, pharmaceutical companies would be required to provide 90 days’ warning to the public when they significantly increase the price of a drug. Health insurance companies would be required to post lists of the 25 costliest drugs and pharma companies would have to list the 25 drugs with the highest year-over-year cost increases.

“Coloradans should never have to consider forgoing a drug because of its exorbitant, unjustified and unexplained price tag,” Rep. Ginal told the committee. “It’s our duty to better understand these prices to better safeguard our constituents and ensure that Coloradans are being treated fairly.”

“Public scrutiny will help hold drug manufacturers accountable for out-of-control price increases,” Rep. Jackson said. “This bill will help Colorado families be informed and prepared, rather than be blindsided by budget-busting drug price increases.”

The HIE Committee voted 7-6 this evening to advance the bill to the Appropriations Committee.

Also tonight, the committee advanced HB18-1179, Rep. Joe Salazar’s bill to crack down on cases of price gouging in the sale of generic drugs – those for which patents have lapsed.

“This is about predatory practices and price gouging that affects seniors, affects the disabled, affects poor people, which ultimately affects us as taxpayers,” Rep. Salazar, D-Thornton, told the committee before it voted 7-6 to advance the bill to the Finance Committee.

Also approved was HB18-1207, sponsored by Reps. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, and Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, would require hospitals to share more of their financial information with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, including audited financial statements, utilization and staffing information. HCPF would also gain access to hospitals’ secure databases.

“The privately insured are paying 64 percent more than the actual cost of their care,” Rep. Kennedy told the committee tonight. “Unless we can look behind the curtain and have a better understanding of what’s going on, we’re not going to be able to provide meaningful solutions to our constituents.”

The House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee voted 8-5 to send HB18-1207 to the House floor.

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