Colorado legislative session healthcare highlights

Colorado’s 2019 legislative session ended on Friday. This session, more than one-third of all the bills introduced were directly related to health care. In the final week of the session, many of the health care-related bills we have been tracking were considered and sent to the Governor’s office for signing.

 

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The following bills were debated heavily during the legislative session:

HB19-1312: The School Immunization Requirements bill requires the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a standard process for claiming and submitting a school immunization requirement. The department would also be required to create immunization information to be distributed to schools across the state. Overall, the bill creates a more standardized process for obtaining and reporting a religious medical immunization exemption. The bill was laid over on Thursday, and was not considered further. It is likely more work will be done on the bill, and re-introduced next session.

HB19-1001: The Hospital Transparency Measures to Analyze Efficacy bill requires the Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing, as well as the Colorado healthcare affordability and sustainability board, to create an annual report that details uncompensated hospital costs. The report will also detail the different expenditure categories for each hospital in the state. The bill is part of the ongoing effort in the state to increase hospital transparency and general health care cost transparency as well. The Governor signed the bill in mid-March.

HB19-1038: Dental Services for Pregnant Women on Children’s Basic Health Plan Plus, changes the current law that requires that only eligible children be covered on the health plan program, and includes the coverage of pregnant women.  The Governor signed the bill in mid-April.

HB19-1269: The Mental Health Parity Insurance Medicaid bill seeks to improve the current behavioral and mental health care programs by increasing and expanding coverage. The bill also increases coverage by requiring state compliance with several federal regulations that make certain requirements mandatory. The Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing would also be required to ensure that Medicaid covers behavioral and mental health treatments. The Senate voted to concur with House amendments to the bill last week. The amendments came out of the Appropriation committee and reduced the amount of funding that was allocated to specific line items.

HB19-1004: Proposal for Affordable Health Coverage Option, was one of the most highly anticipated health care related bills this session, and one that we spent a great deal of time tracking. Representative Roberts, a co-sponsor of the bill, discussed this bill in this Q&A. The bill proposes the creation of a state health care option that would increase competition in the market. The bill additionally requests that federal funding be utilized for the creation of this state option. The Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing would be required to create a report to be presented to the Legislature before the 2020 legislative session. The report would consider the implementation of the program, the difference of the option at various income levels, and the financing of the state option as well. HB 1004 was sent to the Governor’s desk for signing on Thursday.

SB19-004: This bill, the Address High-cost Health Insurance Program, creates additional consumer protections, and give consumers the ability to negotiate prices directly with health care providers. The bill is one of many introduced this session that attempts to provide price transparency, and consumer protections to Coloradans. The bill was sent to the Governor for consideration on May 2.

HB19-1174: The Out-of-network Healthcare Services bill provides more transparency to patients when they receive out-of-network care. Patients will receive information on the provision of services, the disclosure of services, and the payment requirements. The bill also creates a payment plan for out-of-network services and creates a penalty for failure to comply with payment requirements. The House considered the Senate amendments to the bill that would clarify statutory language in the bill, and voted to concur with amendments on Thursday.

HB19-1168: The State Innovation Waiver Reinsurance Program will create a Colorado reinsurance program to provide reinsurance payments to insurance companies to help with high-cost insurance claims. The bill also allows the commissioner of insurance to waive certain federal requirements, and to also request federal funding in order to create the reinsurance program and the appropriation for it. The House voted to concur with Senate amendments on Friday. Amendments to this bill change certain statutory language to be more specific. Previous amendments changed the funding structure to create exemptions for certain hospitals.