Featured in the May/June 2014 Colorado Medicine.
Colorado nears end of legislative session
Susan Koontz, JD, CMS General Counsel
With approximately two weeks left in the 2014 Regular Session, there is still much work to do at the Capitol. The Colorado Medical Society has been tracking more than 40 bills this legislative session and working diligently with our allies in medicine to protect and empower physicians and patients in Colorado. Below are bills that we are following.
SB14-187: Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care
The bill creates the Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care and tasks the commission with studying and making recommendations regarding health care costs, focusing on evidence-based cost controls and access and quality of care.
The governor and legislative leadership from both houses and parties are to appoint the 12-member commission, assuring representation from across the state and by individuals with expertise in various subject areas, including health care administration, financing, delivery, and consumption.
Additionally, the commissioner of insurance, the executive directors of the departments of Public Health and Environment, Human Services, and Health Care Policy and Financing, and an administrator from the All-Payer Health Claims Database serve as ex officio, nonvoting members of the commission.
The commission is to make recommendations regarding legislative and regulatory modifications that could make health care affordable while improving access and quality of health care.
Cost containment routinely rates very high on the list of top concerns for Colorado physicians and patients. CMS views this bill as a vital step in addressing the top drivers in skyrocketing health care costs.
Update: The bill passed the Senate and is awaiting scheduling in the House Health, Insurance, and Environment Committee.
HB14-1054: Restrict Minors Access Artificial Tanning Devices
This bill would have restricted the use of artificial tanning devices for minors under the age of 18. This is the second session that a bill of this nature has been pushed for by Colorado’s medical community but it has come up against strong business interests each time. The CMS Council on Legislation (COL) voted to support the bill.
Update: Unfortunately, this bill was postponed indefinitely (PI) in the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 16.
HB14-1207: Household Medication Take-back Program
The program allows individuals to dispose of unused medications at approved collection sites, and for carriers to transport unused medications from approved collection sites to disposal locations.
The COL voted to support the bill with the recommendation from the CMS Prescription Drug Abuse Committee, finding it in line with CMS policies on reducing prescription drug abuse in Colorado.
Update: The bill passed the House and Senate and is now on its way to the governor for signature.
HB14-1283: Modify Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
This bill makes modifications to the electronic prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP).
The COL and CMS Prescription Drug Abuse Committee voted to support this bill. CMS physicians and staff have been an integral part of the Colorado Consortium on Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention that made the recommendations outlined in the bill, demonstrating CMS’ influence in the statewide effort to reduce prescription drug abuse.
Update: CMS continues to show strong support for this bill and is pushing it through the legislative process. This bill was heard before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 24 and passed with amendments that struck language that would have allowed HCPF access to PDMP data for Medicaid patients and added language that will limit a physician’s responsibility to a designee’s negligent breach of confidentiality of information obtained from the PDMP. As introduced, the physician would have been responsible for a designee’s willful intentional actions.
Two bills that would have expanded the scope of practice of alternative health care providers have been stopped in their tracks:
SB14-128: Modify Naturopathic Doctor Act
This bill would have allowed a naturopathic doctor (ND) who does not satisfy the education and examination requirements determined last year by HB13-1111 but who holds an active certification in good standing from the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board to obtain a state-issued ND registration. As previously reported, the bill was PI’d in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Feb. 13.
SB14-32: Naturopath Providers Treat Children
The bill would have repealed the restrictions on the ability of alternative health care providers to treat children of any age. After a tough fight, CMS and our allies prevailed and the bill was PI’d in the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on April 3.
New bills that CMS has been tracking since March include:
HB14-1288: Student Immunizations Prior to School Attendance
As originally drafted, this legislation would have put into place modest educational requirements for parents who were considering use of the “personal belief exemption” for opting out of immunizing their children. Unfortunately, the bill was amended to remove the educational requirements and all that remains is a requirement that schools report vaccination rates.
The COL voted to support this bill and the CMS lobbying team continues to negotiate this bill as it moves through the process, but anticipates that the fight for stricter educational requirements around an increasing vaccine opt-out rate will continue into next legislative session and beyond.
SB14-155: Medical Marijuana Health Effects Grants Program
Within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, this bill will create a sub account in the medical marijuana cash fund that will provide funding for medical marijuana health research. The COL voted to support this bill.
SB14-18: Prohibit Nicotine for Minors
Under current law, it is illegal to furnish tobacco products to anyone under 18 years of age. This bill expands the prohibition to include all nicotine products. The COL voted to support this bill. It successfully passed through the legislature and was signed by the governor on April 11.