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May 10, 2023

SIGNED! Bills to Increase Health Care Transparency, Improve Community Health Services Become Law

DENVER, CO - Governor Polis today signed two bills that would increase transparency of health care services and bolster community-based health care services across the state.

“It’s essential that health care providers are transparent about the services they can provide to patients,” said Rep. Kyle Brown, D-Louisville. "Receiving health care usually requires people to take time off work, secure child care, and find reliable transportation. With this bill becoming law today, everyday Coloradans can have peace of mind that their chosen provider fits their health care needs, saving them time and money.”

“Every Coloradan deserves quality care that meets their needs and allows them to thrive,” Senator Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont, said. “Shining a light on which health care services Colorado hospitals provide - and which services they deny - will help Coloradans make more informed choices about where they receive their health care.”

“Too many times, LGBTQ+ Coloradans have shown up to a doctor's appointment only to be told that the provider would not provide the care they needed,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada. “From abortion to gender-affirming care, Coloradans deserve transparency of the services their health care provider can offer. I’m proud that this bill is being signed into law today so Coloradans can compare services across providers and receive the care that they need.”

HB23-1218 requires certain health care facilities to share details with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) of the health care services they provide. The CDPHE will create forms to compile a list of services that a health care facility may deny for non-medical reasons, like abortion and gender-affirming care. The forms will be updated biannually and shared on a public facing website so they have a better understanding of facilities that meet their specific health care needs. Providers must also make their forms available to their patients to disclose the care they offer due to the informed consent process.

By February 1, 2024, the CDPHE must publish the forms on their website so consumers can easily compare services across health care facilities.

“Community-based health programs can greatly uplift the health and safety of Colorado communities, but to have maximum efficacy, we must include the voices of vulnerable communities that benefit from these programs,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “Now, non-profit hospitals will be required to incorporate community feedback and will be held accountable for how they allocate funding to improve public health.”

“Non-profit hospitals have the opportunity to provide much needed benefits back to their community,” Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, said. “House Bill 1243 works to ensure the public’s concerns are heard when hospitals are determining what benefits to provide to their community. This bill requires greater transparency from hospitals about what benefits are being funded and how community feedback is being implemented, ensuring Coloradans have access to the unique services they need.”

HB23-1243 centers hospitals’ community benefit spending around local under-privileged communities by incorporating community feedback into the community benefit implementation plan and restricting the amount of out-of-state spending that can be counted as “community benefit” spending. The bill would also require each reporting hospital to seek feedback from their community during its annual proposed community benefit implementation plan, submit a detailed report about any discussions or decisions at the annual meeting, make the report public, present priority areas that were identified through the hospital’s community needs assessment, and execute a community benefit plan that addresses the needs of the community as discussed in the annual meeting to better understand the impact that hospital spending has on the health of Coloradans.

Under the bill, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) would be required to hold stakeholder meetings to ensure low-income residents, people of color, people with disabilities, people with serious mental illness, and others experiencing disproportionate health outcomes are fairly represented and meaningfully engaged in the hospital’s community benefit spending plan. HCPF would also create an annual report that summarizes the estimated federal and state tax exemptions of each reporting hospital, a summary of the reporting hospital’s investments that have been effective in improving community health outcomes, and sets compliance requirements for hospitals. HCPF would be able to apply corrective action or fines for reporting hospitals that do not abide by the guidelines set by this bill. Additionally, the bill enhances existing public meeting requirements and ensures representation from the tribal council and Urban Indian Organization who have hospitals within their communities. Institutions of higher learning will also be represented to help bring meaningful input into discussions on spending.

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