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

Hillary For America campaign ad
June 28, 2016 | NPR · Hillary Clinton’s financial advantage gives her campaign the opportunity to own the airwaves. With her high negative ratings, the campaign is using ads to reintroduce Clinton to voters in key states.
 

AFP/Getty Images
June 27, 2016 | NPR · Britain’s top political parties are scrambling to find new leaders as lame duck Prime Minister David Cameron heads to Brussels to attend European Commission meetings and reassure continental allies.
 

AFP/Getty Images
June 27, 2016 | NPR · “This is done! This is done! We are never going home!” a commentator on Icelandic TV said. He added, “Live the way you want England. … You can go home! You can go out of Europe!
 

Arts & Life

June 27, 2016 | NPR · The sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones showed a real evolution in the way the show portrays women and in the season finale, several female characters ascended to power. NPR’s Kelly McEvers talks to Glen Weldon from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and Greta Johnsen, host of the Nerdette podcast, about the show.
 

June 27, 2016 | FA · After starring in Broadway shows like The Music Man and Candide, Cook struggled with addiction, then staged a successful second career as a cabaret singer. Her new memoir is Then and Now.
 

June 27, 2016 | FA · Todd Solondz’s new film consists of four episodes linked by a female dachshund, who has four different owners and four different names. Critic David Edelstein calls Wiener-Dog tragic and inspiring.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
June 27, 2016 | WXPN · Smith Westerns fans might want to take note of guitarist Max Kakacek and drummer Julien Ehrlich’s new band.
 

WXPN
June 27, 2016 | NPR · The man whose songs have been recorded by Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and more is now emerging as a crucial voice on his own.
 

Courtesy of the artist
June 27, 2016 | KCRW · KCRW’s Jason Bentley spins music by M83, Kinobe, Kraak & Smaak and more in this week’s two-hour EDM mix.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab