Thursday, February 27, 2020

Health insurance bills take incremental steps toward better coverage

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 11:22 AM

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When it comes to health care in Colorado, two controversial proposals from Democratic lawmakers have hogged a great deal of the spotlight.

One critical priority: A new, government-run public option for individual insurance. A bill to implement such an option hasn't been introduced yet, though the state released a report with recommendations in November.

You may have also heard some debate over state lawmakers' new attempt to improve vaccination rates among Colorado schoolkids. Senate Bill 163, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Feb. 25, would standardize the process of obtaining a vaccine exemption for non-medical reasons. (More on that here.)

On top of those two bills, Colorado lawmakers are considering several others this session that aim to improve health care in the state by adding one coverage requirement at a time.

House Bill 1086 would require health plans to cover an annual mental health exam of up to 60 minutes, comparable to a physical exam. Insurers would not be able to require deductibles, copays or coinsurance for these exams. Sponsored by Reps. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, and Colin Larson, R-Littleton, the bill passed the Colorado House on Feb. 20 and was introduced in the Senate, where it's sponsored by Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.

House Bill 1158 — sponsored by Reps. Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood, and Leslie Herod, D-Denver — would require health benefit plans to cover infertility diagnosis and treatment, as well as fertility preservation care. The bill would bar a plan from imposing limits on fertility medications or care that don't apply to other types of prescriptions or services under the same plan.

On Feb. 19, HB1158 passed the House on third and final reading. It headed to the Senate, where Sens. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder, are sponsors.

House Bill 1103 would decrease the age at which insurance carriers must cover colorectal cancer screenings from 50 to 45, in accordance with American Cancer Society guidelines. That bill is sponsored by Reps. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, and Perry Will, R-New Castle. Post-screening, insurance carriers would have to cover a follow-up colonoscopy, if necessary.

The bill passed the House on Feb. 27 and now heads to the Senate. There, it's sponsored by Sens. Fields and Kevin Priola, R-Henderson.

Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, has made decreasing health care costs a central focus of his administration. Laws passed by the Legislature and signed by Polis last year established a reinsurance program to help cover emergency expenses, capped the out-of-pocket costs for insulin (though a recent Denver Post article throws that bill's efficacy into question), and allowed for the importation of prescription drugs from Canada.

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