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

AFP/Getty Images
December 12, 2017 | NPR · At least one person was killed and many others injured when an explosion ripped through the hub. Fears of supply disruptions quickly caused energy prices to leap across Europe, especially in Italy.
 

U.S. Attorney's Office
December 12, 2017 | NPR · Prosecutors say Akayed Ullah posted an update to his Facebook account on Monday that stated, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.”
 

Tim McDonnell for NPR
December 12, 2017 | NPR · Herders have let their livestock roam freely. Farmers are furious over damage to their crops. Tensions have led to thousands of deaths. Will a government ban on grazing end the violence?
 

Arts & Life

December 12, 2017 | FA · Fresh Air‘s book critic says her 2017 list is chaotic in a good way. “These books zing off in all directions: They’re fresh, unruly and dismissive of the canned and contrived.”
 

Lucasfilm
December 12, 2017 | NPR · Writer/director Rian Johnson joins the Star Wars franchise to deliver a chapter that’s fast, fun and freewheeling, even as it introduces surprising nuance to the classic Dark Side vs. Light Side beef.
 

December 12, 2017 | NPR · Escape from the holiday whirl with three tasty romances, featuring a duke with an epic library, a young girl finding herself in the big city and a proper lady finding love where she least expects it.
 

Music

Courtesy of the aritst
December 12, 2017 | WXPN-FM · The Oklahoman who made retro rock sound modern with “North Side Gal” is back with a new album and home base in Nashville.
 

December 12, 2017 | FA · Three members of Ranky Tanky perform songs from their self-titled debut. The band’s name and music derive from the tradition of the Gullah, slave descendants from the Georgia and South Carolina coast.
 

PA Images via Getty Images
December 12, 2017 | NPR · Some of the best rock music of 2017 was made by women reckoning with a fundamental destructive truth of the genre: that it promises freedom to young female listeners but withholds actual liberation.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab