House Dems bills to lower the cost of health care becomes law

(Mar. 28) – Rep. Chris Kennedy’s bipartisan bill to increase transparency for health care costs in Colorado’s hospitals was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis today.

“My colleagues and I are committed to helping to lower the cost of health care and we were honored to join the Governor today as he signed this landmark legislation,” said Rep. Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “Too many hardworking people across our state are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of health care, particularly in rural Colorado where we’re seeing some of the highest premiums in the country.”

The high cost of health care is harming both Colorado consumers and businesses. By requiring hospitals to be transparent about their spending, we can increase competition in a way that will reduce costs for all. By identifying inefficiencies and wasteful spending, businesses and payers will be able to choose more efficient options and lower hospital costs.

According to data collected by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), hospital costs account for 39 percent of health care spending nationwide. Physician and clinical services account for 26 percent, and prescription drugs and other non-durable medical products account for 11 percent.

HB19-1001 will require hospitals to disclose more information about spending on patient care, administration, capital construction, and acquisitions of physician groups; and will require hospitals to show how they’re shifting costs onto the backs of families and businesses.

In addition, the data provided to the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) will inform the supplemental payments made to hospitals through the Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise (CHASE) to incentivize value-based care, rather than volume of patients served.

The bill passed with bipartisan support in the House with a vote of 39-22 on Jan. 31. HB19-1001 passed with bipartisan support in the Senate with a vote of 34-1 on Mar. 14. It was brought back to the House to approve an amendment added in the Senate, which was concurred. With the new amendments added, the bill passed in the House with a bipartisan final vote of 43-21 and was signed into law today.

Additional legislation led by House Democrats to Help Lower the Cost of Health Care

HB19-1174 Out-of-network Health Care Services – This is a bipartisan effort to address the issue of surprise billing, sponsored by Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose.

“As a legislator, my job is to find a way to ensure Coloradans aren’t dealing with these surprise medical bills through no fault of their own,” said Rep. Esgar, D-Pueblo when the House approved the bill. “I am responding to to the concerns of families, individuals and seniors who have been hit by these surprise and often expensive bills. We think this is a strong bipartisan solution to this problem.”

Bill status: HB19-1174 passed the House on a vote of 60-4 and is awaiting action in the Senate. Find out more here.

HB19-1168 State Innovation Waiver Reinsurance Program -This is a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Julie McCluskie that aims to reduce insurance premiums for individuals and families by January 2020 to provide much-needed relief to Coloradans, many of whom are paying up to a third of their income on monthly premiums.

“I’m proud to partner with Democrats, Republicans, Governor Polis and Coloradans who are focused on driving down the cost of health care on the Western Slope and in every corner of our state,” said Rep. McCluskie said after the bill passed the House Health and Insurance committee. “We must work together to protect our Colorado way of life and fix a broken health care system for the working people in our state.”

Colorado, especially the Western Slope, has some of the highest health insurance costs in the country.

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