Aug 31, 2022

Anthony Lux serves as CCLP's director of communications. His areas of expertise include institutional communications strategies, constituency growth and network activation for cause-driven organizations. Staff page ›

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Press release: New hospital billing law goes into effect

by | Aug 31, 2022

HB 21-1198 helps make hospital care more affordable for Coloradans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2022

DENVER, CO — On Thursday, September 1, 2022, Colorado’s Hospital Discounted Care law will go into effect requiring all hospitals to take certain steps to make hospital bills more affordable for low- to moderate-income Coloradans. House Bill 21-1198 provides new rights and protections for patients; however, patients must be made aware of their rights under the new law to take full advantage of its benefits.

Under Colorado’s Hospital Discounted Care law, all hospitals in the state are required to:

  • Screen patients to see if they qualify for help paying their bills
  • Inform patients of their rights
  • Offer discounts and affordable payment plans on hospital care to patients who qualify based on their income
  • Take certain steps before sending an unpaid hospital bill to collections.

Both insured and uninsured patients can benefit from the Hospital Discounted Care law, but insured patients must know to request screening for Hospital Discounted Care in order to access discounts. This makes it extremely important that Coloradans know their new rights. People of all immigration statuses can qualify for discounts.

“These are the protections Coloradans deserve from our hospitals to be able to get the care they need with more reasonable costs,” said Adam Fox, Deputy Director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “This law caps how much low and moderate income Coloradans can be charged, sets clear standards for affordable payment plans, requires hospitals to proactively screen uninsured patients for discounts, and more. This law helps ensure people can get the hospital care they need with more peace of mind.”

“This law is a major step forward for Colorado,” said Julia Char Gilbert, Connelly Policy Advocate at Colorado Center on Law and Policy. “No one should face financial ruin because they or a loved one needed medical care. These patient protections bring us that much closer to achieving that reality in Colorado.”

The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI), Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) and Vedra Law have partnered to create a fact sheet and guidebook for patients to understand the new rights afforded to them under this law. Those resources can be found at cohealth.co/hospitaldiscounts.

Additionally, any media with questions or those interested in sharing the changes with the new law with Coloradans, CCHI and CCLP have experts available for interviews. Please contact:

Anthony Lux
720-360-1079
tlux@copolicy.org

Adam Fox
303-563-9108
afox@cohealthinitiative.org

About Colorado Consumer Health Initiative:

Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI) is a nonprofit, consumer-oriented, membership-based health advocacy organization that serves Coloradans whose access to health care and financial security are compromised by structural barriers, affordability, poor benefits, or unfair business practices of the health care industry. CCHI’s mission is to advance the consumer voice to improve access to health care for all Coloradans by working statewide for progress toward equity, affordability, and quality.

About Colorado Center on Law and Policy:

Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) is a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to the vision that every Coloradan should have what they need to succeed. Standing with diverse communities, organizations, and individuals, CCLP is but one piece of the rising movement to fight poverty across our state. CCLP serves our fellow Coloradans using the powers of legal advocacy, legislative advocacy, coalition building, community engagement, research, and analysis.

 

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Recent articles

HEALTH:
HEALTH FIRST COLORADO (MEDICAID)

To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.

FOOD SECURITY:
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP)

Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.

FOOD SECURITY:
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC)

Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.

EARLY LEARNING:
COLORADO CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CCCAP)

Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.