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March 9, 2023

JOINT RELEASE: Legislative Democrats Introduce Historic Package to Secure Safe Access to Protected Health Care

DENVER, CO – Democratic lawmakers today introduced an historic package of bills that will allow all Coloradans safe access to the essential and affirming health care they need to thrive.

Democrats introduced legislation that will improve protections for patients and providers, prohibit the use of deceptive advertising by anti-abortion centers, and close access gaps related to sexually transmitted infections and abortion care.

“The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade unleashed a wave of anti-abortion legislation across the country, which puts critical reproductive care for too many of our neighbors out of reach,” Senator Julie Gonzales, D-Denver said. “I am proud to be part of the coalition championing the Safe Access to Protected Health Care package. The bills we are introducing today will protect the rights and privacy of patients and providers who seek abortion or gender affirming care, prohibit deliberate health care misinformation in our communities, and make it easier and more affordable for folks to access the health care they need to thrive.”

"This landmark package of legislation breaks down the barriers that too often prevent Coloradans from accessing our legal right to protected health care, abortion and gender affirming care,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada. “Our comprehensive approach to protected health care improves access to safe, legal reproductive and gender affirming health care. Our rights are under attack across the country, and it’s important for Colorado to lead the way in not only protecting access to reproductive and gender-affirming health care, but to do everything in our power to break down the inequitable economic and social barriers that stand in the way of the care people need.” 

“Everyone should be able to seek life-saving reproductive and affirming care without interference or shame - it is a fundamental expression of the American values of freedom, privacy, and self-determination that we all hold dear,” said Senator Janice Marchman, D-Longmont. “These bills represent an important step forward in our goal to keep abortion safe, transparent, and accessible in Colorado, and will help improve the health and well-being of communities across our state.”

“Abortion is legal in Colorado but legality does not equal accessibility. Lower income communities and Coloradans of color face larger barriers and a disproportionate lack of access to protected health care,” said Rep. Elisabeth Epps, D-Denver. “Today, we’re rolling out an historic reproductive health care package that will help break down systemic barriers that have made it harder for people of color in Colorado to receive the care they need. I’m proud to sponsor legislation that will improve access to health care, protect patients and providers, and stop the spread of dangerous anti-abortion misinformation to secure reproductive justice for all.”

Safe Access to Protected Health Care bills introduced Thursday include:

Protecting Health Care Patients, Providers, and Assistors

Sponsored by Sens. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont, and Reps. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, and Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, this bill establishes that criminal prosecutions for receiving, providing, or assisting legally-protected health care - including abortion and gender-affirming care - will not be recognized by the state of Colorado.

It also prevents Colorado from recognizing or enforcing civil lawsuits concerning protected health care that are penal in nature or without jurisdiction, and prevents Colorado state employees from participating in or assisting with interstate investigations or divulging information concerning protected health care.

Increasing Access to Reproductive Health Care Services 

Sponsored by Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, Sen. Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County, Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, and Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County, this bill works in several ways to close gaps in accessing reproductive health care, including abortion. It would limit surprise medical billing and remove patient cost sharing for reproductive health care services and treatment, including but not limited to sterilization, sexually transmitted infections and abortion care. 

The bill also expands access to contraception and related information for all Coloradans by modernizing a 1971 law and aligning it with Colorado’s Public Health code. It also makes it possible for patients to utilize Medicaid’s non-emergent medical transportation service to get to and from their abortion services, further breaking down accessibility barriers faced by many Colorado Medicaid patients. 

Finally, in order to protect patients’ privacy and confidentiality on shared insurance coverage, this bill further creates a state fund that providers can bill directly for their patient’s reproductive health care services. It also priotizes access to life-saving HIV medication by cutting red tape to allow any authorized provider, not only pharmacists, to offer the treatment.

Prohibiting Deceptive Practices at Anti-Abortion Centers

Sponsored by Sens. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and Janice Marchman, D-Loveland, and Reps. Karen McCormick, D-Longmont, and Elisabeth Epps, D-Denver, this bill will protect Coloradans seeking reproductive health care by prohibiting the use of deceptive advertising by anti-abortion centers. It declares prescribing, offering, or facilitating a “medication abortion reversal” unprofessional conduct for licensed or certified health care providers.

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