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

AP
July 28, 2014 | NPR · A California judge sided with Shelly Sterling against her husband, Donald Sterling, giving the green light to the sale of the team, which she’d arranged in May.
 

NPR
July 28, 2014 | NPR · For this week’s Sandwich Monday, we try a sandwich with a cult following. It’s the Korean steak from Rhea’s Market and Deli in San Francisco.
 

NPR
July 28, 2014 | NPR · One-click online shopping is changing how we shop. Stores with leases as short as a day are proliferating — meaning a storefront can be a designer clothing store one day and a test kitchen the next.
 

Arts & Life

NPR
July 28, 2014 | NPR · For this week’s Sandwich Monday, we try a sandwich with a cult following. It’s the Korean steak from Rhea’s Market and Deli in San Francisco.
 

July 28, 2014 | NPR · Alan Cheuse reviews A Replacement Life, Boris Fishman’s humorous account of Holocaust survivors in today’s New York.
 

July 28, 2014 | NPR · Only one movie in July, Transformers: Age of Extinction, has broken the 100 million mark during its opening weekend. Box office receipts all summer have proven anemic. Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with RENTRAK, talks to Audie Cornish about the box office slump.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
July 28, 2014 | NPR · His style may be his own, but it distinctly recalls the sound of the 1950s. The vocalist, guitarist and songwriter shares his love of 45 rpm records and raw, live rock ‘n’ roll.
 

July 28, 2014 | NPR · Jenny Lewis achieved musical fame as part of the indie band Rilo Kiley, which broke up in 2011. Her third solo album announces a new chapter in her career — and perhaps her life.
 

Courtesy of the artist
July 28, 2014 | NPR · Dave Brubeck called her “one of the greatest jazz pianists I have ever heard.” She digs up an old tune and calls two Monk numbers on this 1992 episode of the program.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab