Success from the session: Gov OK's hospital-payment bill
Gov. John Hickenlooper signs the bill creating the Hospital Payment
Assistance Program. At left is Sen. Irene Aguilar, the Senate sponsor,
and Rep. Cindy Acree, the House sponsor, is at right.
Gov. John Hickenlooper today signed into law Senate Bill 134, which creates the Hospital Payment Assistance Program. This legislation will provide greater access to health care for many Coloradans who do not seek treatment because of concerns over cost, and it will make it easier for them pay for the cost of their care.
According to the latest Colorado Health Access Survey, 829,000 Coloradans do not have health insurance, and 21 percent of Coloradans have difficulty in paying their medical bills. For many of our fellow citizens, hospital costs serve as a barrier to their ability to seek and get treatment. Those hurdles may ultimately create higher health care expenses for these vulnerable Coloradans, which will only diminish their quality of life.
All too often, Colorado's uninsured can be charged more for health care than those who have insurance. This places an even greater financial burden on lower-income Coloradans, which often leads to bankruptcies and credit problems. This legislation will help the uninsured make informed decisions about their care by providing the information necessary to make health care costs more predictable.
Senate Bill 134 was also a much-appreciated example of bipartisanship, with a Democratic sponsor in the Senate and a Republican sponsor in the House. The bill passed 28-6 in the Senate and 45-20 in the House.
This new law will help:
- Provide clear information about possible financial assistance online, at the hospital when patients are admitted as well as the on the hospital bill itself.
- Make it easier for working people and their families to manage the cost of their hospital care by requiring hospitals to work with low-income Coloradans to set up reasonable payment plans and debt-collection standards.
We thank Sen. Irene Aguilar and Rep. Cindy Acree for their sponsorship of the legislation, and we thank Gov. Hickenlooper for signing SB 134 into law. We'd also like to give credit to the Colorado Center and Law and Policy, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and the Colorado Hospital Association, which were instrumental in the passage of this legislation.
Bob Semro, the Bell's health care policy analyst, testified in favor of the new law. Click here to read his testimony.
Article posted on May 7, 2012