Thursday, March 28, 2019

Gov. Polis signs hospital transparency bill

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2019 at 12:21 PM

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill March 28 requiring greater financial transparency from hospitals, which the bill's sponsors say will increase competition to keep health care costs down.

Titled "Hospital Transparency Measures To Analyze Efficacy," and sponsored by Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, along with Sens. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, House Bill 1001 will require hospitals to disclose costs and expenditures to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), which will create an annual hospital expenditure report to be posted online. The report must include uncompensated care costs by payer group and a breakdown of different categories of expenses.

click to enlarge Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, sponsored House Bill 1001. - COLORADO HOUSE DEMOCRATS
  • Colorado House Democrats
  • Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, sponsored House Bill 1001.
The new responsibilities for HCPF outlined in the bill entail a minimal workload increase for the department, but won't require any additional funding, legislative staff found.

Hospitals will have to provide the following information to HCPF:

• the cost report submitted to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
• an annual audited financial statement,
• the total number of available and licensed beds,
• inpatient and outpatient statistics,
• charges by payer group,
• contractual allowances (the difference between what hospitals bill carriers and what they are paid),
• bad debt write-offs,
• charity write-offs,
• a breakdown of operating expenses,
• a balance sheet,
• staffing information,
• and information on acquisitions and sales.

The bill passed the House on January 31 with a vote of 39-22, and the Senate (with several amendments) on March 14 with a vote of 34-1. The House voted to approve the Senate's amendments on March 18. The governor signed it on March 28.

“The high cost of health care is harming both Colorado consumers and businesses. Hardworking people are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of health care, particularly in rural Colorado where we’re seeing some of the highest premiums in the country,” Rep. Kennedy said in a March 18 statement. “By requiring hospitals to be transparent about their spending, we can increase competition in a way that will reduce costs for all.”

Rep. Tony Exum, the Democrat who represents House District 17 in Colorado Springs, is among the bill's cosponsors.

All state senators from El Paso County, including Republican Sens. Dennis Hisey, Paul Lundeen, Owen Hill, and Bob Gardner, as well as Democratic Sen. Pete Lee, voted in favor of the bill.

Republican House Reps. Shane Sandridge, Dave Williams, Larry Liston, Tim Geitner, Terri Carver and Lois Landgraf were opposed in the final House vote. Democratic Reps. Exum and Marc Snyder were in favor.

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