Poorest will no longer pay highest price at hospitals
Hickenlooper signs assistance bill into law

By Ann Imse
Colorado Public News

Starting Aug. 8, Colorado hospitals will no longer be allowed to charge their highest prices to the poorest, uninsured patients.

A bill banning the widespread practice was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper Monday afternoon. The program is expected to cut hospital bills for such patients by half or more. Shortly before the signing, the governor said he hoped the law reduces the number of bankruptcies due to high medical bills.

Currently, hospitals effectively charge different prices for the same procedure, depending on who’s paying. The uninsured end up with the highest prices because they don’t have an insurance company to negotiate for them.

The new law would make hospitals give their best price, not their worst, to the low-income and uninsured. That could cut their bills by half, or even more. It applies to people with incomes of at 250 percent of poverty level. That’s $27,925 for a single person and $57,625 for a family of four.

The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, and co-sponsored by Rep. Cindy Acree-R-Aurora. It had support from the Colorado Hospital Association. As a result, the bill passed by a vote of 28-13 in the state Senate and 45-20 in the House, an unusual example of broad bipartisan support.

The bill also requires hospitals to tell patients about their financial aid and payment plans. Many don’t publicize them now. Hospitals also would be required to give patients 30 days after a late payment before sending bills to collections agencies.

Exempla, which runs four hospitals in Grand Junction, Lafayette and Denver, said it supported the bill because it already has a policy of providing free care for patients with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. That would be families of four with incomes up to $46,100 and subsidies for up to $92,200.

 

Comments are closed.

News

April 19, 2014 | NPR · A polio outbreak in Cameroon has spread to Equatorial Guinea and threatens to move throughout Central Africa. Before the outbreak, Equatorial Guinea had been free of polio for nearly 15 years.
 

April 19, 2014 | NPR · Twelve sherpas died in a recent avalanche on Mount Everest. Climber Conrad Anker explains that the guides were helping prepare a route for hundreds of climbers expected for the coming summer season.
 

April 19, 2014 | NPR · The Syrian city of Homs has been a rebel stronghold since the anti-government uprising began. But one rebel tells NPR that they’re low on ammunition and medical gear.
 

Arts & Life

April 19, 2014 | NPR · Monday marks the 25th anniversary of Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything. A look back at the seminal teen flick reveals a surprisingly deep and romantic story.
 

Courtesy of Riverhead Books
April 19, 2014 | NPR · Lisa Robinson knows how to talk — and how to make others, especially musicians, want to talk. The veteran rock journalist speaks with NPR’s Wade Goodwyn about her four decades behind the scenes.
 

Polk and Co.
April 19, 2014 | NPR · “All of us have chased the American dream so there’s something very universal about it,” the Irish actor says. O’Dowd and James Franco star in a new Broadway production of Steinbeck’s novella.
 

Music

Courtesy of Riverhead Books
April 19, 2014 | NPR · Lisa Robinson knows how to talk — and how to make others, especially musicians, want to talk. The veteran rock journalist speaks with NPR’s Wade Goodwyn about her four decades behind the scenes.
 

NPR
April 19, 2014 | NPR · Wainwright creates music that is theatrical, emotional and operatic. He stopped by NPR’s studios to perform a few of his hits.
 

Courtesy of the artist
April 19, 2014 | NPR · Prince has re-signed with Warner Bros. Records after an 18-year acrimonious split, and will release an expanded edition of Purple Rain in time for its 30th anniversary.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab