Repeal of provider fee dies as sponsor kills bill
Yesterday, during a hearing of the House Health and Environment Committee, Rep. Janak Joshi, R-Colorado Springs, ended his attempt to repeal the hospital provider fee that became law in 2009. Upon his request, the bill died by a unanimous vote.
During the hearing, Rep. Joshi provided some insight as to why he introduced his repeal bill (House Bill 1025). He said the provider fee, paid voluntarily by hospitals, was a violation of the TABOR Amendment because the fee was by definition a tax and therefore should have been subject to a popular vote. He said he understood the plight of hospitals and the uninsured, but "we don't need a federal mandate to tell us to do it. We in Colorado know a lot better how to take care of our own people and our own hospitals."
Neither Rep. Joshi nor other committee members discussed the positive impact of the provider fee, which is part of Health Care Affordability Act of 2009. It has already provided Medicaid coverage to well over 30,000 uninsured Coloradans and will likely extend eligibility to another 60,000. It further helped Colorado hospitals weather the financial storm resulting from uncompensated and under-compensated care made worse by the current recession. Nearly one-third of hospitals that experienced losses in 2009 were able to generate operating income in 2010. As a result, those losses were not cost-shifted to insured consumers. All of this was achieved without the contribution of any state tax dollars.
The Health Care Affordability Act of 2009 was legislation that originated in Colorado and was made law through the effort of state hospitals, consumer groups and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. It was not and is not a federally initiated mandate.