2003 Health Care Legislation - October - 2002

Denver Women's Commission
2003 Health Care Legislation - October - 2002

Philip A. Hernandez, Ph.D., Executive Director

Chaer Robert, Director
DENVER, CO 80204
TELEPHONE: 720-913-8465
FAX: 720-913-8470
TTY: 720-913-8475

Wellington E. Webb

October 11 2002
Prepared for Colorado Woman News
by Chaer Robert


Any major advances in health care coverage are all but impossible under current budget constraints. Some new source of funds - increased federal funding or a new voter-approve tax - would be essential to provide health care for the uninsured. Our current system of requiring the uninsured working poor to pay the cost of their own health care means they do not seek health care until it is an emergency. This system takes it toll on their health and on our access to emergency rooms, and on cost-shifting for the health care that is provided.

Over the past few months, two different interim committees of the State Legislature have looked at problems and recommendations regarding all aspects of health care. The Health Care Task Force approved these proposals for next year:

● HIPAA Privacy Standards Health Information -- Stricter privacy would be required for medical records on certain kinds of health conditions.
● Seniors Tax Credit Prescription Drugs
● Sale of Unauthorized Insurance -- Penalties should be increased for those who sell bogus health insurance.

The Health Care Systems Interim Committee approved these 2003 bills:

● Generic and Mail Order Drugs for Medicaid -- Generics may not be appropriate for certain mental illness and other conditions. But for many illnesses, a generic would do, unless the physician specifically overrides it. Mail order of long-term prescription drugs could also save Medicaid money.
● Corporate Practice of Medicine - A doctor's independent professional judgement on treatment should prevail.
● Management of Medicaid Fee-for-Service and Primary Care Physician Programs - Channeling Medicaid clients into managed care did not always save money. Now the trend is reversing.
● Aligning Colorado Law with the Federal ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) - This relates to the insurers' rights and timelines for denying coverage.
● Reimbursement for Returned Medications under Medicaid - Pharmacies would reimburse the state for medications bought by the state, but not used- when they are resold to a different person.
● Medicaid Drug Utilization Review
● Medical Malpractice Damage Limits - This clarifies our current $250,000 cap on non-economic losses

Some bills are technical alignments between state and federal laws. With the current budget crisis, legislators are trying to cut costs, not expand services. The balance is squeezing out any system inefficiencies without curbing care to patients. Bold steps are not expected next year.

For more information on these proposals, contact the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, 303-839-1261

Representatives Kay Alexander, Andrew Romanoff and Jennifer Veiga Honored

The Denver Women's Commission, jointly with the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce chose these three as outstanding lawmakers for 2002. Each sponsored a substantive bill benefiting women. In addition, each has been a strong advocate for women's concerns at the state legislature.

Rep. Kay Alexander (R - Montrose) - For her leadership in addressing the issues of substance abuse. In particular we honor her for her sponsorship of HB 1263 - Substance Abuse Treatment - which will (1) require that insurance covering substance abuse treatment cover it regardless of whether it is court ordered or not; (2) expand substance abuse treatment services for American Indians on Colorado's reservations, and (3) authorize the Dept of Health Care Policy and Finance to apply for a waiver- subject to Joint Budget Committee approval - to add substance abuse treatment to Medicaid services offered to TANF-related populations.

Rep. Andrew Romanoff (D-Denver) -For his effective advocacy on many social issues. In particular, we honor him for HB 1051 allowing victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking up to 3 days leave from work to attend to matters stemming from the violence. Coverage criteria matches the Family and Medical Leave Act, i.e. long term employees of companies of 50 or more.

Rep. Jennifer Viega (D-Denver) - For her work on domestic violence and violence against women. In particular this year, we honor her for sponsoring HB 1034 which waived civil process serving fees and court costs for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.