Colorado Capitol Report

Governor Vetoes The Colorado Chamber-Opposed Bill That Would Have Increased Health-Insurance Premiums

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State Policy News

Governor Vetoes CACI-Opposed Bill That Would Have Increased Health-Insurance Premiums

Today, Governor John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill, HB-1108, which CACI had opposed and earlier in the week had asked the Governor to veto.

On Tuesday, CACI President Chuck Berry sent a letter to the Governor, asking him to veto HB-1108, which would have reduced co-payments on rehabilitative services to those charged for primary care services but, consequently, increased health-care premiums for workers and employers.

The bill cleared its final legislative hurdle on March 20th.  The bill’s second fiscal note, issued on March 3rd, contains an analysis of the proposal.

Here is the text of the CACI letter:

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and the members of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry (CACI), I urge you to veto HB 1108 “Concerning limits on copayments made by a covered person for physical rehabilitation services.”

“Along with numerous member companies and other business organizations, CACI is concerned about the increase to health insurance premiums that this legislation will cause.  The bill is an insurance mandate that prohibits the copay or cost-sharing for physical/occupational therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, or chiropractic from being greater than the cost-sharing for primary care.

“By mandating that the cost-sharing for these select services be lower than what is currently charged in most insurance plans, this legislation will drive an increase in the cost of premiums.

“When considering the cost of any given health care service, if the amount of the copay a patient pays is lowered, the insurer must make up the difference to pay for the total cost of the service, driving higher premiums to make up the difference. This directly impacts Colorado businesses, which will see the higher cost of insurance passed along to them and their employees.

“Choice in our marketplace is important to Colorado businesses and consumers.  Raising the cost of the lowest-priced plans narrows their choices and could very well result in purchasers of those plans being priced out of the market.

“This legislation will drive increased health insurance premiums in Colorado, disproportionately in the lowest cost plans and most impacting the individuals and businesses that can least afford it.

“CACI urges your veto of HB 1108.”

Business Coalition Seeks Gubernatorial Veto of HB-1108

Meanwhile, a CACI-led coalition of CACI members and business organizations also submitted a memo to the Governor, asking for his veto of HB-1108.   Here are the members of the coalition:

Aetna * Cherry Creek Chamber of Commerce * Cigna Corporation

Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry * Colorado Association of Health Plans

Colorado Competitive Council * Colorado Group Insurance Association

Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance * Colorado State Association of Health Underwriters

Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce * Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce

Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association * Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce Kaiser Permanente * National Federation of Independent Business * United Healthcare

For news media coverage of health-care bills, such as HB-1108 and SB-16, on which CACI is currently neutral, plus other health-care policy issues, see:

Hickenlooper vetoes bill limiting insurance copayment requirements,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 28th.

Fate of 2 health-cost-cutting bills hangs in balance in Legislature,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 28th.

True North brings the ER to the patient,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 28th.

Senate Democrats kill measure to audit Connect for Health Colorado,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 26th.

House Approves State Budget, Sends the “Long Bill” to the Senate

This morning, the House gave final, Third Reading approval to the state’s budget, which sends it to the Senate.  The vote was 37 to 27, with one representative excused.  Only one Republican, Representative Cheri Gerou (Evergreen), a member of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, voted for the Long Bill.

HB-1336, which is the budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year beginning July 1st, was introduced Monday in the House.  On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee referred the bill to the House Floor for Second Reading.  Last night, the House gave a preliminary, Second Reading OK to the budget after arguing over several dozen amendments.

Among other things, the $23 billion budget bill (a) increases state budget reserves from 5 percent to 6.5 percent with an infusion of $130 million, (b) increases spending on K-12 education by $275 million, (c) adds $100 million for higher education to slow tuition hikes and increase financial assistance and (d) increases funding for flood recovery and wildfire prevention.

The author of the Long Bill is the Joint Budget CommitteeColorado is a state in which a legislative committee—not the Governor–takes the lead in writing the budget.  Here’s how the legislature describes its budget-approval process:

“The Long Bill is introduced for consideration by both houses, as a House Bill when the JBC Chairman is a Representative, and as a Senate Bill when the JBC Chairman is a Senator. Legislative consideration begins in the party caucuses, where JBC members explain decisions and answer questions from their colleagues with help from the staff. The staff drafts all changes adopted by a caucus or requested by a legislator as amendments for consideration during floor debate. After both houses pass the Long Bill, the JBC members act as the conference committee to resolve differences between them. After both houses adopt the conference committee report, the bill is sent to the Governor. The Governor has line item veto power in acting on the bill.”

Meanwhile, a couple of hundred bills, which require funding or have some kind of fiscal impact, are parked in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.  Once the Long Bill is passed, the two Committee will then prioritize the bills, winnowing out those that are to be killed and those that are to be sent on to the House or Senate Floor for Second Reading debate.  The House Appropriations Committee will tackle its log-jam of bills on Wednesday and Friday mornings of next week.

For more on the proposed state budget, read:

House passes Colorado budget with GOP opposition,” by The Associated Press, The Denver Post, March 28th.

Colorado House gives initial OK to budget proposal,” by Kurtis Lee, The Denver Post, March 27th.

Increases in flood recovery, fire prevention highlight 2014-2015 budget,” by Anthony Cotton, The Denver Post, March 25th.

High Action Agenda at CACI HealthCare Council

Blair at HealthCare Council

Yesterday, Katherine Blair (right), from the Governor’s Office of Policy, Research and Legislative Affairs, discussed with the CACI HealthCare Council various issues concerning health-care policy in Colorado, the state’s health-benefit exchange and the implementation of the Federal Affordable Care Act.  To Katherine’s right are Cindy Sovine-Miller, Chair of CACI HealthCare Council; Carly West, CACI Governmental Affairs Representative; and Dan Pilcher, CACI Executive Vice President. 

The Council then discussed potential state action regarding continuation of health insurance plans that are not ACA-compliant and the following bills: HB 1281 – Terminal Patients Investigative Drugs; HB 1126 – Dense Breast Tissue Notification; HB 1108 – Copays for PT/OT Services; SB 160 – Transitional Living Program for Brain Injured; SB 159 – Implement Clean Claims Recommendations; and SB 16 – Freestanding ERs.

News Media Coverage

Below is recent news-media coverage of business, political, policy and governmental issues of interest to CACI:

’Cleaning up “brownfield’ sites is a win for the economy and the environment,” commentary by Senator Cheri Jahn, The Denver Post, March 25th.

New legislative take on old telecommunications laws,” by Peter Marcus, The Colorado Statesman, March 28th.

Hickenlooper signs three business bills into law,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 27th.

Worst-case scenario study: Frack ban could cost 68,000 Colorado jobs,” by Mark Jaffe, The Denver Post, March 26th.

University of Colorado study suggests major job loss from proposed fracking ban,” by Neil Westergaard and Heather Draper, The Denver Business Journal, March 26th.

Colorado telecom reform package breezes through House committee,” by Andy Vuong, The Denver Post, March 25th.

Telecom reform package finds plenty of supporters in Colorado House,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 25th.

Gov. Hickenlooper urges support for expanding broadband to rural communities,” Office of the Governor, March 24th.

Legislature declares Colorado Aerospace Day, criticizes feds for NASA cuts,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, March 24th.

Timely study of Colorado oil and gas drilling,” editorial, The Denver Post, March 23rd.

Bipartisanship in the second half of Colorado legislature?  No so much,” by Anthony Cotton, The Denver Post, March 23rd.