April 11, 2022

$10 MILLION BIPARTISAN BILL TO EXPAND ACCESS TO RURAL HEALTH CARE, CREATE A HEALTHIER COLORADO INTRODUCED

SB22-200 will help support rural hospitals, improve accessibility and affordability of lifesaving services


DENVER, CO – General Assembly Democrats introduced bipartisan legislation to support rural hospitals and improve access to quality, affordable health care throughout rural Colorado.

Sponsored by Sen. Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins), Sen. Bob Rankin (R- Carbondale), Rep. Julie McCluskie (D-Dillon), and Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta), the legislation will create a $10 million Rural Provider Access and Affordability Stimulus Grant Program to provide grants to rural hospitals aimed at increasing access to, and improving the affordability of, the lifesaving care rural Coloradans depend upon.

“Every Coloradan deserves quality and affordable health care, but that care is too often hard to come by, especially in the rural and underserved parts of our state,” Ginal said. “That’s why I’m proud to support this bill to better support Colorado’s rural hospitals and give them the tools and resources they need to reach even more patients. By increasing access and driving down costs, we can get more Coloradans the lifesaving care they need to thrive.”

“This legislation will save Coloradans money on health care in rural areas by expanding access and reducing the cost of care,” McCluskie said. “By investing $10 million of our economic recovery and relief funds to bolster our rural health care infrastructure, we will save people money on health care, lower costs, improve the sustainability of rural hospitals and clinics, and increase access to critically needed health care services, including behavioral health.”

“This is an incredibly important opportunity that will provide much-needed funds to our rural hospitals to ensure that all Coloradans have access to reliable medical coverage,” said Rankin. “I’m proud to be working to make sure that rural hospitals are treated as equal partners in our recovery.”

SB22-200 will provide millions to improve affordability by expanding access to telehealth services, supporting coordination and referral mechanisms between providers, and enabling coordinated and shared care management between rural providers.

The bill also provides millions to improve access through extended hours for primary care and behavioral health settings, dual track emergency department management, telemedicine, and the replacement of unused inpatient hospital beds with in-demand inpatient services such as long-term care, skilled nursing facility recovery days, and mental health and substance use care.

According to the Colorado Rural Health Information Hub, many rural Coloradans lack access to primary care and other critical health care services such as basic surgeries, chemotherapy, and advanced imaging services which results in poorer health outcomes, higher costs and, higher acuity conditions at time of treatment.

SB22-200 will be heard by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee. Follow the bill’s progress HERE.