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

Bob Wick/Bureau of Land Management
February 12, 2016 | NPR · The new designations protect nearly 1.8 million acres of public lands which include Southern California’s highest peak, thousands of Native American rock carvings, endangered animals and a ghost town.
 

AP
February 12, 2016 | NPR · The annual event invites bird-watchers of all levels to count the birds in their backyards, and submit the data to researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.
 

AP
February 12, 2016 | NPR · Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill are meeting in Havana, Cuba. It’s the first time leaders of the two churches have met since a schism 1,000 years ago divided Christianity.
 

Arts & Life

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
February 12, 2016 | NPR · A War is a contender for the best foreign film Oscar. It’s about a soldier in Afghanistan placed in an impossible situation, and NPR film critic Bob Mondello says it brings the big questions home.
 

February 12, 2016 | NPR · Bordertown is about two families on both sides of the immigration debate. One is a white border patrol agent and his family and the other is a Mexican-American immigrant family.
 

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
February 12, 2016 | NPR · How will Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire dialogue fit with Harper Lee’s tale of racism and justice in the South?
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
February 12, 2016 | NPR · The Colbert bandleader sings “What A Wonderful World” in a 2011 session with guest host Jon Weber.
 

Getty Images
February 12, 2016 | NPR · Maybe this is all part of some performance-art piece we’ve been unwittingly sucked into. But either way, it seems to be working.
 

Courtesy of the artist
February 12, 2016 | NPR · A career-long hitmaker, Warren knows how to write about intimacy and heartbreak. But when she collaborated with Lady Gaga for a song about sexual assault, it unlocked a few stories she’d never shared.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab