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December 18, 2023

Laws to Save Patients Money on Health Care, Protect Coloradans Go Into Effect

DENVER, CO - On January 1, 2024, laws to cap the cost of epinephrine auto injectors at $60 for a 2-pack, protect patients during intimate exams and improve eating disorder treatment go into effect.

“No one should ever have to choose between paying their bills and being able to afford their life-saving medication, which is why we passed a law that limits corporate price-gouging and makes EpiPens more accessible for all,” said Rep. Javier Mabrey, D-Denver, sponsor of HB23-1002. “Currently, EpiPens can be as expensive as $700 for a 2-pack, even though it only costs the manufacturer $8 to produce. On January 1, our new Colorado law will limit the out-of-pocket price of an EpiPen 2-pack to $60, ensuring that Coloradans can afford and access their life-saving medication.”

“Colorado families like the ones I represent on the Western Slope have been getting charged an arm and a leg for the EpiPens they rely on to save their lives in emergency situations, and it’s unacceptable,” Senator Dylan Roberts, D-Frisco, said. “Nobody should have to choose between paying the bills and affording their prescription drugs. This new law going into effect will lower costs and make life-saving EpiPens much more affordable for working folks.”

“With the current price of an EpiPen 2-pack, hardworking Coloradans have to work over one additional week just to ensure they have medication that can save their life during an emergency,” said Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora, sponsor of HB23-1002. “Symptoms from food allergies can set in quickly, and price should never be a factor for people like myself that rely on emergency medication to keep them safe and alive. I’m proud that our new law will remove cost barriers that prevent many lower-income people and people of color from accessing the medication they need.”

Epinephrine auto-injectors are commonly referred to by the trademark name “EpiPen”, which was acquired by one company in 2007. Since then, prices have increased over 660% to $690 for a 2-pack. Because Epi-pens expire a year after purchase, Coloradans have been forced to spend hundreds of dollars annually for medication that can save them from potentially lethal reactions.

HB23-1002 creates the Epi-Pen Affordability Program, where uninsured Coloradans with a prescription can apply online through the Colorado Division of Insurance to obtain low-cost epinephrine auto-injectors. Under this bill, manufacturers would be required to provide access to the program on their websites. The bill also requires insurance carriers that provide coverage for epinephrine auto-injectors to cap the out-of-pocket cost to $60 for a 2-pack.

HB23-1077 requires health care professionals, students, medical residents and trainees to obtain informed consent prior to a patient being sedated or unconscious before performing intimate examinations, unless in emergency situations. In addition to consent, health care professionals would only be able to perform intimate examinations if it is pertinent to the planned procedure.

“This law is common sense - providers should have to get consent from patients to conduct invasive pelvic exams,” said Rep. Jenny Willford, D-Northglenn, sponsor of HB23-1077. “Too many patients have woken up after a surgery to learn a non-consensual pelvic, prostate, rectal, or breast exam was performed on them, leaving them surprised and traumatized. With this law taking effect, Coloradans can have peace of mind that they won’t undergo exams that they did not consent to.”

“Patients deserve dignity,” Assistant Senate Majority Leader Faith Winter, D-Broomfield, said. “Previously, health care professionals jeopardized that by performing unauthorized intimate exams on patients. By requiring health care professionals to obtain consent from their patients before intimate exams are conducted, we’re ensuring patients are able to maintain control over their bodies, and maintain their dignity.”

“Many people, like myself, were shocked to hear that it was legal in Colorado to perform intimate exams on a patient while they are sedated for medical training purposes,” said Rep. Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County, sponsor of HB23-1077. “These non-consensual exams were a violation of a patients safety and trust in the health care system, and can force patients to revisit some of their worst traumas and cause unintended, long-lasting impacts. This law protects Colorado patients by requiring consent before any intimate exams are performed, giving them the ability to opt out at any point.”

“Creating patient consent protections for intimate exams is simply the right thing to do,” said Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont. “This important new law will ensure patients who have been put under anesthesia or who are unconscious during medical procedures aren’t unknowing or unwilling recipients of intimate exams.”

Across the country, medical students and residents are performing unauthorized intimate exams, including pelvic exams for educational purposes, on patients under medical sedation for unrelated surgeries. Patients are not able to consent to these procedures and can experience extreme physical and behavioral trauma responses after learning about the performed exam.

This law would create a clear process for obtaining patient consent and non-compliant medical and health care professionals would be subject to disciplinary action by their regulators or the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for not following that process.

SB23-176 provides health care protections for those suffering from a diagnosed eating disorder. The law prohibits health insurance plans from using body mass index or any other weight standard when determining the medically necessary and appropriate level of care for a patient. It also prohibits retail establishments from selling over-the-counter diet pills to those under the age of 18-years-old without prescriptions. 

“Only 1 in 3 people who have an eating disorder will receive the treatment they need to have a healthy relationship with their bodies,” said Rep. Chris deGruy Kennedy, D-Lakewood, sponsor of SB23-176. “This law prohibits health insurance companies from denying eating disorder treatments based on outdated standards, like body mass index and ideal body weight. We’re eliminating harmful approaches so we can ensure the health and safety of Coloradans.”

“This is a crisis with our youth. Hospitalizations for eating disorders among adolescents has increased by 100 percent since the onset of COVID. Women and LGBTQ+ youth are at particular risk of contracting an eating disorder because of the unrealistic expectations of appearance imposed on them by our society,” Senator Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County, said. “We must address outdated and harmful approaches to treating eating disorders and provide care that is respectful to each individual and on par with the latest research.”

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses. According to Mental Health Colorado, one in ten Coloradans live with an eating disorder, showing that the need for action is clear.

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