Health care policy has been a major focus of the General Assembly and the governor in recent years, and the Second Regular Session of the 74th Colorado General Assembly – which convened Jan. 10 and is expected to run through May 8, 2024 – is no exception. As of Feb. 28, 520 bills have been introduced, and CMS is analyzing all bills that could affect the practice and delivery of medicine.

We have already seen action in tort reform, prior authorization reform, violence against health care workers, substance use disorder and mental health, CME requirements, required health benefit coverage, and network adequacy/primary care payment reform – just to name a few.

A top priority for CMS in 2024 is prior authorization reform, and Council on Legislation strongly supports HB24-1149 Prior Authorization Requirements Alternatives, sponsored by Rep. Shannon Bird (D), Representative Lisa Frizell (R), Sen. Dylan Roberts (D) and Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer (R).

Physicians know that to best ensure equitable, timely access to critical medical care for Colorado patients, medical decisions should be made between a patient and their provider; carriers should not be practicing medicine nor are they qualified to do so. Reforms are needed in Colorado to streamline and improve our prior authorization system to empower patients and providers to make important medical decisions and reduce the financial costs, trauma, and wasted valuable provider hours caused by delayed care. Health can’t wait for Colorado patients.

CMS and the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, with other supporting organizations, coordinated a press conference at the Capitol on Feb. 21, the day HB24-1149 was heard in the House Health & Human Services Committee. Physicians then stayed to testify at the hearing, clearly making the case that unnecessary prior authorization harms patients. The bill ultimately passed out of committee on a 10-2 vote and, as of press time, was awaiting scheduling for a floor hearing.

We will keep you informed on the latest legislative and ballot developments and provide you ways to make your voice heard. Watch for Code Blue legislative alerts, strategically sent to physicians in key legislators’ districts with analysis on how proposed policies will impact the practice of medicine and the delivery of safe, quality care.

A few other bills we’re working:

SB24-163 Arbitration of Health Insurance Claims (COL supports)

Colorado has passed legislation to protect patients from out-of-network claims and align with federal (no surprises act) law. Yet, important alignments were not made and this bill aims to stop health plan gaming of the system by allowing batching of arbitration claims.

HB24-1066 Prevent Workplace Violence in Health Care Settings (COL amend position)

This bill aims to enhance safety measures across the system, and CMS is focused on reducing administrative complexity and ensuring front-line workers can do their jobs.

SB24-130 Noneconomic Damages Cap Medical Malpractice Actions (COL supports)

With bipartisan sponsorship, this bill would modernize the medical non-economic damage cap, with a modest increase over a five-year period. In the past two years, California and Nevada raised non-economic damage caps to avoid ballot initiatives eliminating non-economic damage caps altogether. We face a similar attack on caps.

HB24-1171 Naturopathic Doctor Formulary (COL strongly opposes)

This bill would enable naturopathic doctors to prescribe all legend drugs and Schedule III-V drugs.

HB24-1037 Substance Use Disorders Harm Reduction (COL supports)

One of four bills drafted by the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee, an interim committee that met this summer, it aims to reduce the harm caused by substance use disorders by making important clarifications and exclusions to current law and regulations.

HB24-1058 Protect Privacy of Biological Data (COL supports)

This first-in-the-nation bill puts in place important protections for individuals’ biological data collected by consumer devices now and in the future. It is championed by Sean Pauzauskie, MD, a neurologist who brought the bill to his state representative, Rep. Cathy Kipp (D-Fort Collins), following patient questions about a wearable neurological device.

HB24-1153 Physician Continuing Education (COL seeks to amend)

This bill would create a new maintenance of licensure framework for Colorado physicians, including a CME requirement.

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, Legislative Updates