Senate Bill 12-134 Hospital Payment Assistance Act
Senate Bill 12-134
Testimony to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Robert Semro, policy analyst
February 16, 2012
My name is Robert Semro, and I am a policy analyst with the Bell Policy Center. The Bell is a non-partisan, non-profit research and policy organization dedicated to expanding opportunity for all Coloradans.
The Bell Policy Center supports Senate Bill 134. A key component of the Bell Policy Center's mission is to ensure that all Coloradans have the opportunity to reap the full benefits of a healthy adult life. Senate Bill 134 will provide greater access to care for those Coloradans who may not seek treatment because of concerns over cost. Working people and their families can responsibly pay for the cost of their hospital care when clear information about financial assistance is available. New debt-collection standards and limiting hospital costs for the low-income uninsured to the cost of the actual care provided would help these patients to meet their medical debts.
According to the latest Colorado Health Access Survey, 829,000 Coloradan do not have health insurance. Twenty-one percent of Coloradans have difficulty in paying their medical bills. For many of our fellow citizens, hospital costs may very well serve as a barrier to their ability to access care. Those hurdles may ultimately create even higher health care expenses for these people in the future, which will only diminish their quality of life.
Senate Bill 134 will help to lower some of those barriers by preventing patients from being charged more than the actual cost of care. Ready access to information about discount and charity care programs will help to make patients more fully aware of the payment options that are open to them. Debt-collection plans for the uninsured that will limit annual payments to 10 percent of income hold the promise of reducing family financial pressure and making medical debt more manageable.
Colorado's low-income uninsured face regular financial challenges, and these challenges are compounded by the cost of chronic or unanticipated medical problems. Senate Bill 134 will help responsible uninsured Coloradans cope with medical expenses and debt. We urge the committee to support Senate Bill 134, and we thank you for the opportunity to testify today.