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April 25, 2023

Bills to Lower Health Care Costs and Protect Consumers Pass Committee

DENVER, CO - The House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Resources Committee today passed a bipartisan bill sponsored by Representative Lindsey Daugherty to increase price transparency for health care services to save Colorado patients money.

“Patients often don’t know in advance what they should expect to pay for medical services, leading to many being shocked when they receive large medical bills that they have no choice but to pay,” said Rep. Lindsey Daugherty, D-Arvada, sponsor of SB23-252. “This bill requires hospitals to publicize a list of the services they offer so patients can anticipate costs and appropriately budget for their medical care. When hospitals make their prices public, Colorado families and employers can compare costs across providers and choose an option that best fits their budget and health care needs.”

SB23-252, also sponsored by Representative Anthony Hartsook, passed by a vote of 9-0. In 2022, the General Assembly passed legislation to prohibit hospitals from pursuing debt collection action against a patient if the hospital failed to comply with federal hospital price transparency laws during the patient’s treatment. Under the federal Hospital Price Transparency Rule, hospitals must publicly post standard charges and provide an out-of-pocket cost estimator tool for patients. This bill would build on the federal transparency requirements by having hospitals post their Medicare reimbursement rates and annually submit pricing information to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. Violations of SB23-252 would be a deceptive trade practice under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.

“HB23-1303 is vitally important to protect Coloradans, doctors and hospitals from insolvent insurers that leave communities and patients without health insurance coverage,” said Rep. Kyle Brown, D-Louisville, sponsor of HB23-1303. “Patients and doctors shouldn’t be on the hook when insurance companies go out of business. This bill makes sure insurance companies keep their promises and protects consumers, hospitals, and health care providers.”

“Rural communities like mine are especially vulnerable to changes in the health insurance market,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, sponsor of HB23-1303. “If insurers leave town, then people in our rural communities are stuck with exorbitant costs and are left wondering how they’re going to find an affordable plan that works for them. This legislation is an important safeguard that will protect Coloradans from instability in the health insurance market that can spread and disrupt coverage for consumers.”

HB23-1303 would make the distribution of insurance claims a class 1 distribution priority in the case of an insurer’s liquidation, preventing other insurers from becoming impaired or insolvent due to another’s failure. This prioritization adjustment would be repealed on July 1, 2026.

The bill also amends the “Life and Health Insurance Protection Association Act” by:

  • Adding health maintenance organizations (HMOs) as members of the Colorado Life and Health Insurance Protection Association, bringing HMOs into this public safety net, and subjects HMOs to assessments,

  • Allocating responsibility for long-term care insurance assessments between health and life insurance association members, and

  • Specifying that the Act does not provide coverage to a person that acquires rights to receive, or to a payee or beneficiary that transfers its rights in, a structured settlement factoring transaction, as defined in federal law, regardless of when the transaction occurred.

HB23-1303 passed by a unanimous vote of 11-0.

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