Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pills, ERs and high bills to be keys in 2014 Colorado statehouse talks

Courtesy of The Denver Post
Colorado politicians and health care leaders will avoid major system overhauls this year as they watch the new federal health care law kick in, but they promise sharp debate over pills, high bills and ER overuse.
Legislators say they will tackle big-headline items from the past year that include rampant overbuilding of high-cost emergency rooms, how to involuntarily commit mental health patients to secure treatment, and how to tally the state's cost of the Medicaid expansion.
Recurring patient complaints about inexplicably high hospital bills also call for tweaking of 2012 legislation meant to protect the uninsured from bankruptcy, said state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, who sponsored the original law. Consumer groups surveyed whether hospitals are complying and found gaps, Aguilar said.
She wants to strengthen the law to say the uninsured and low-income could only be charged what the hospital gets from Medicare — a low price previously negotiated by the federal government — plus 20 percent.
The original bill also left an enforcement gap, Aguilar said, and now she wants the state health department to check compliance with the billing regulations when it licenses and renews hospitals
By Michael Booth
For the rest of the story, go to The Denver Post

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