Colorado House moving bills aimed at high healthcare costs

Author: Joey Bunch - March 23, 2018 - Updated: April 6, 2018

A diabetic injects himself with insulin. (Photo by monkeybusinessimages, istockphoto)

DENVER — House Democrats have made good, so far, on their promise to pass bills aimed at curbing healthcare costs, and Thursday they passed one out of committee to address the high cost of insulin.

House Bill 1009, sponsored by Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Eagle, would require pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy benefit managers, insurers and nonprofits to make more information available on insulin pricing, including production costs, annual profits, and wholesale costs.

Legislative analysts found that about 200,000 Coloradans take insulin to control their diabetes.

The bill passed the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on a 7-6 party-line vote.

Last week the same committee by the same vote spread passed House Bill 1260 to require drug companies to give 90 days’ public notice before significantly raising the price of a drug, while drugmakers and insurance companies would have to post lists of the costliest and most profitable drugs.

The bill is sponsored by Democratic Reps. Joann Ginal of Fort Collins and Dominique Jackson of Aurora.

Also last week the House Public Health Care and Human Services passed three bills to address opioid addiction:

  • House Bill 1003, sponsored by Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, would create a study committee on substance use disorders to recommend legislative options on connecting resources with people who need help. The bill passed 9-2.
  • House Bill 1007, sponsored by Reps. Chris Kennedy of Lakewood and Jonathan Singer of Longmont would require insurance companies and Medicaid to provide faster approval of medication-assisted treatments for patients with substance use disorders, so they don’t relapse into opioid. The bill passed 9-1.
  • House Bill 1136, sponsored by Pettersen, would include extended residential and inpatient substance abuse treatment to the Medicaid program, using mostly federal funds. The bill passed 8-3.

Petersen’s bills are sponsored in the upper chamber by Sens. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and Cheri Jahn, I-Wheat Ridge. Jahn is sponsoring House Bill 1007 in the Senate with Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs.

Kennedy and Pettersen are the House sponsors of Senate Bill 22, which would limit most opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply and change requirements for refills. The Senate sponsors are Republican Jack Tate of Centennial and Irene Aguilar of Denver.

Singer is the House sponsor of Senate Bill 24 to invest in more behavioral healthcare providers for under- or unserved areas of the state. Tate and Jahn are the Senate sponsors.

Kennedy and Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, are sponsoring House Bill 1207 to take a look at what hospitals are charging by mandating them to share more information with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, including audited statements and other data.

The bill passed the House 41-22 last week.

Another piece of legislation, House Bill 1205, would offer temporary financial aid to Coloradans between 400 percent and 500 percent of federal poverty level who spend more than 20 percent of their income on health insurance premiums. The offer is restricted those in the 48 counties in the western half, southern or eastern thirds of the state.

On March 8 the bill passed the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on a 7-6 party-line vote.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.