Lawmakers to tackle a hodgepodge of healthcare-related bills
By Erika Gonzalez
Colorado Public News

Colorado lawmakers expect to consider numerous healthcare-related issues this session, from tougher “truth in advertising” requirements for medical providers to imposing more stringent standards for food sold in public schools.

But with Colorado’s rising Medicaid costs already devouring a third of the state budget, don’t expect to see many healthcare-related measures aimed at funding new programs or expanding services.

Instead, legislators are focused on cutting costs to meet current obligations as they gear up for the new session.

“Everybody is asking tough questions about how we find more cost efficiencies,” said state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, (R-Berthoud).

The “truth in advertising” bill is designed to prevent licensed medical professionals from misrepresenting their credentials or services in promotional materials.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Morse, (D-Colorado Springs) grew out of concerns over chiropractor Brandon Credeur, who is being sued by a group of patients who claim he misrepresented himself as an endocrinologist. Credeur was investigated by Denver ABC affiliate KMGH Channel 7 last spring and is now facing charges filed by the Colorado Attorney General’s office, including counts for unethical advertising and performing beyond the scope of his services.

After the revelations about Credeur came to light, the Colorado Medical Society convened a work group of attorneys and physicians to develop the soon-to-be introduced legislation.

“The truth is that the gray areas in state laws governing health care advertising put patients at risk of being sandbagged and exploited by predatory and unscrupulous practitioners, who make promises they can’t keep about their own training and abilities, “ said CMS President Dr. Brent Keeler.

Also on tap are a few bills brewing aimed at improving public health. Allison Summerton, research analyst for the Colorado Health Institute, said a bill regarding food in public schools could set new standards, including banning trans fats.

A proposal to provide oral health care services for pregnant Medicaid clients is also in the works. Studies have shown that children whose mothers have poor oral health are more likely to develop tooth decay. Treatment of tooth decay in pregnancy can also prevent mothers from transmitting bacteria to their children.

Sen. Betty Boyd, (D-Lakewood) agrees that oral health care services are “critically important” but said she isn’t sure where the funding would come from to support the measure. Likewise, efforts to increase funding for senior services could also encounter problems.

Kelli Fritts, associate state director for advocacy for AARP, said the state has funded senior services at about $10 million for several years, although more than $100 million in needs exist.

“We recognize times are tight, but there needs to be an investment now, so we can save money in the future,” Fritts said.

Another Boyd-sponsored bill would consolidate the administration and delivery of long-term care services under the Department of Health Care and Public Financing.

“Consolidation can be a really good idea, if it’s done right and it’s effective in the end,” Boyd said.

Boyd, the chair of the Health and Human Services committee, is also working on a bill that would streamline procurement practices for Medicaid and eliminate double contracting requirements in some instances. The Department of Health Care and Public Financing has also put forth a bevy of cost-sharing initiatives, including adding an enrollment fee for Children’s Health Plan participants and charging Medicaid recipients co-pays for certain services, such as non-emergency use of an emergency room.

“The idea is to try and use copayments to encourage the most appropriate use of services,” said Summerton, of the Colorado Health Institute.

Lundberg, meanwhile, has plans to reintroduce a bill from last year that would allow a Medicaid-eligible elderly individuals to choose between Medicaid and receiving an amount equal to 70 percent of the medical assistance benefits they would have received from Medicaid. Lundberg says recipients can use those benefits to seek services from providers outside the Medicaid system.

“One of the biggest examples is nursing home care,” said Lundberg, a member of the Health and Human Services committee. “It’s the most expensive option for long-term care. A lot of assisted facilities can provide comparable care but not all qualify as a Medicaid provider.”

Beyond cost-cutting measures, legislators are placing their bets on health care bills that have little to no fiscal impact. One bill, for example, would improve the way data is collected from health care providers in order to provide an accurate of picture of Colorado’s practicing health care workforce. Boyd, who sponsored a similar bill last year that would have made the Division of Registrations responsible for implementing a data collection system, said the impact of the bill should be “absorbable.”

‘I think it’s just a matter of collecting the data in a more effective way,” she said.

Neither Boyd nor Lundberg said they would be surprised to see legislation repealing
the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange that passed last year, though neither expects such a measure would go very far. The exchange has plans to launch in late 2013.

 

Comments are closed.

News

August 29, 2015 | NPR · When he debuted earlier this summer, Kyle Jean-Baptiste was also the youngest person ever to play the lead character in Les Miserables on Broadway. He died in an accident Saturday.
 

August 29, 2015 | NPR · Three Al-Jazeera English journalists and several student activists were sentenced to up to three years and six months in prison in Cairo on Saturday.
 

August 29, 2015 | NPR · In Beirut, the Lebanese capital, bars and restaurants closed Saturday night in solidarity with anti-government protests that have grown over the last week.
 

Arts & Life

August 29, 2015 | NPR · Phillips’ new collection is both raw and refined, drawing on intimate experience while shunning autobiography. “I become uncomfortable when people make an equation between author and poem,” he says.
 

August 29, 2015 | NPR · The famed novelist says that at 85 she no longer has the energy to write another book, but she’s just released a revised and updated edition of her manual for aspiring writers, Steering the Craft.
 

August 29, 2015 | NPR · This weekend, the NPR Books Time Machine is rewinding Scott Lynch’s swashbuckling Gentleman Bastard series, a combination fantasy of manners, heist caper and heartfelt buddy comedy. With pirates.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
August 29, 2015 | NPR · Along with his band The Night Sweats, Rateliff is the voice behind “S.O.B.” — a new song with an old sound that’s catching a lot of people off guard.
 

Courtesy of Burning Man
August 29, 2015 | KQED · More than 60,000 people will gather in the Nevada desert next week for the annual festival — and the Playa Pops Symphony, which made its debut last year, will be ready for them.
 

Courtesy of the artist
August 29, 2015 | NPR · Popular bands like The National, The Black Keys, Wilco and Bon Iver have spawned spin-offs in recent years. Should their fans be nervous, or should they embrace the change of pace?
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab