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
April 19, 2018 | NPR · When Raul Castro passed Miguel Diaz-Canel the job, the Communist Party stalwart became Cuba’s first president not named Castro in decades. Still, Diaz-Canel says he isn’t planning radical reforms.
 

Alabama Department of Corrections via AP
April 19, 2018 | NPR · Moody killed a federal judge at his home in Alabama and a civil rights attorney at his office in Georgia. He would be the oldest U.S. inmate executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
 

Zachariah Fike
April 19, 2018 | WNPR · Vermont veterans cook up a brewery and a bourbon distillery that not only lifts spirits, but gives back to the community and creates a model that may encourage other vets to try entrepreneurship.
 

Arts & Life

HBO
April 19, 2018 | NPR · Cenac’s new HBO show, Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas, is a 10-part comedy-documentary focused on American policing and its considerable challenges.
 

NPR
April 19, 2018 | NPR · Lawrence Wright is at his best in this new examination of his home state — a thoughtful, beautifully written book about a place that can be hard for outsiders to understand.
 

AFP/Getty Images
April 19, 2018 | NPR · In the ruins of the recently-ended Rwandan civil war, a team of radio performers attempted to unite Hutus and Tutsis through a soap opera.
 

Music

Getty Images for Samsung
April 19, 2018 | NPR · As news swirls about culpability for Prince’s death, his estate has released a major find: a long-lost 1984 recording of his classic composition along with rare video footage from his rehearsals.
 

Courtesy of the artist
April 19, 2018 | WXPN-FM · The Heartless Bastards front woman details her experience on a trip through the Amazon and how it informed the art she made on her latest solo album, Sweet Unknown.
 

Getty Images for Clara Lionel Foundation
April 19, 2018 | NPR · The Pulitzer Prize for Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. represents a shifting tide in rap’s cultural status. But a juror who helped select the prize says it means as much for an institution like the Pulitzers.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab