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

Getty Images
August 21, 2014 | KWMU · The violence at night in Ferguson, Mo., has calmed down for now. However, there have been more than 160 people arrested since the protests began. Police records offer a sense of who they are.
 

Getty Images
August 21, 2014 | NPR · Two Americans were released Thursday from an Atlanta hospital after treatment for Ebola. The news has generated a flurry of questions about what happens after you survive Ebola. So we asked the CDC.
 

Reuters/Landov
August 21, 2014 | NPR · The secretary of defense says the extremists are well-funded and organized and that he expects them to “regroup and stage an offensive” despite U.S. airstrikes.
 

Arts & Life

August 21, 2014 | NPR · The romantic drama Love Is Strange finds John Lithgow and Alfred Molina playing newly married men whose lives are upended and whose spaces are disrupted.
 

August 21, 2014 | NPR · The One I Love begins as an affecting story about marriage, but as it bogs down in too much explanation of its fantasy elements, it squanders good performances from Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass.
 

iStockphoto
August 21, 2014 | NPR · It’s not news that the publishing world isn’t very diverse. But over on the other side of the industry, how do owners of neighborhood bookstores try to sell books for or about people of color?
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
August 21, 2014 | WXPN · Writer and radio personality Catalina Maria Johnson explores a musical movement in Argentina. She first heard the music through visual arts and describes it as ecological, spiritual and organic.
 

Courtesy of the artist
August 21, 2014 | WXPN · The bassist, singer and songwriter performs music from her new album (Comet, Come To Me) and discusses how Nina Simone’s work influences her own.
 

August 21, 2014 | NPR · Before Ponty came to the States, he already had his concept. Fresh Air critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the digital reissue of Sunday Walk.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab