(Mar. 26) – Rep. Meg Froelich’s bills to help students and lower the cost of health care are moving through the legislature. Earlier today, the full House approved a bipartisan bill, sponsored by Rep. Froelich, D-Englewood, that would increase the accountability of online schools. This afternoon, a House committee gave approval to her bipartisan bill with Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, to lower health care costs and improve the quality of care that Coloradans receive.
“Lowering the cost of health care is a top priority for us at the legislature,” said Rep. Froelich. “Colorado only invests roughly seven to ten percent of its health care dollars on primary care. If we invest more money in primary care on the frontend, that will reduce the cost of health care for both the patients and the medical system on the backend.”
HB19-1233 establishes a primary care payment reform collaborative in the Division of Insurance in the Department of Regulatory Agencies. It also requires the Commissioner of Insurance to establish affordability standards for premiums, including adding targets for carrier investments in primary care. Finally, requires the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and carriers who offer health benefit plans to state employees to set targets for investment in primary care.
The goal of primary care is to achieve better health outcomes by improving the quality and consistency of care so that both patients and the health care system can see a reduction in costs. Primary care visits comprise 53 percent of all health care appointments.
HB19-1233 passed by a bipartisan vote of 9-2. It now heads to the House Appropriations committee. Another bipartisan bill led by Rep. Froelich is headed to the Governor’s desk.
“This bipartisan bill is about leveling the playing field for students who attend an online school, but may depart those schools for various reasons,” said Rep. Froelich said of SB19-129. “It seeks to address whether students who leave online schools are having their educational needs met. Additionally, we are putting in place a key protection in this bill to ensure that poorly performing online schools have to improve before they can once again be accredited by the state.”
SB19-129 enables more effective tracking of students, especially those who enter an online program and subsequently leave before the end of the school year. The bill requires the Online Division in the Department of Education to report information about students who disenroll from an online school after the annual pupil enrollment count date and if known, where they go next.
Online schools in Colorado increased 40 percent from 2010 to 2018, to more than 21,000 students. Many of the online schools fare poorly in state evaluations. Little more than half of the 42 online schools received one of the top two ratings, and 31 percent didn’t have enough data to be rated, according to Colorado Department of Education.
In 2014, the Colorado General Assembly approved a task force made up of education stakeholders to study issues related to Colorado Online Schools. The report submitted to the General Assembly called for more than a dozen items that might be fixed to improve the online education experience.
SB19-129 passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 44-19. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.