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Health Bills Keep Moving During Budget Weeks

We spent past two weeks tracking the budget, House Bill 1405, which passed the Senate on Thursday on a 30-5 vote. But a lot more has been going on at the Capitol. Here’s a recap.

In the House:

  • Two bills passed their third reading votes and are heading the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. HB 1326, which aims to improve patient access to physical rehabilitation services, passed after significant debate. HB 1294, which would greatly increase the number of contraceptive options that insurers must cover, also passed after much debate. The vote was 35-30, with Rep. Kit Roupe (R) the lone Republican in support.
  • Other House bills are on their way to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. HB 1101, which would allow doctors to make medical decisions for unrepresented patients if they are alone, finally passed out of the House after several delays. HB 1336, which would require the Division of Insurance to study doing away with the state’s geographical rating areas, passed both readings on the House floor, as did HB 1379, which addresses how credit is awarded for licensed psychologists’ professional development.
  • HB 1278 would allow courts to require anyone on probation (including those sentenced for non-drug offenses) to participate in a residential drug treatment program. The bill moves now to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it will be heard next week.
  • The House on Friday passed HB 1401, which would improve local food service inspections by increasing the licensing fees for retail food establishments, as well as HB 1320, which would enhance regulation of massage therapists and increase discipline for those who break the law.

In the Senate:

  • The Senate approved Senate Bill 147, which would make Colorado the first state to implement an ambitious national suicide prevention model, after it was unanimously advanced by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The Senate also passed SB 158, which would clarify the tasks that a physician’s assistant is allowed to perform with oversight from a supervising doctor, such as issuing immunization certificates and writing most prescriptions without a physician’s signature.
  • HB 1063 is nearly all the way through the process. The bill, which would allow mental health professionals to disclose concerns about a client who has made threats against a school, passed its final reading in its second chamber. The only thing left is a signature from the governor.
  • SB 169 would add clarity and flexibility to the list of places that are approved to take in people experiencing a mental health crisis. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 5-0 and then passed second reading. It is awaiting a final Senate vote.

Other bills had committee hearings.

  • The Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee voted 8-1 to approve SB 161, which would reinstate the Department of Regulatory Agencies’ lapsed ability to oversee athletic trainers. The bill goes next to Senate Finance.
  • The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted 5-4 (party-line) to kill two bills. HB 1110, the Parent’s Bill of Rights, had sought to prohibit government involvement in any parental decisions that lack a “compelling governmental interest.” HB 1200 would have given the attorney general authority to enforce an existing law that prohibits the use of fetal tissue from an abortion by a research institution.
  • The House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee passed HB 1360 by a 10-3 margin, and the bill then passed second reading in the House. It would continue DORA’s oversight of direct-entry midwives (who enter the field as apprentices instead of going through formal school training programs) and make recommended changes to their scope of practice.
  • The House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee approved HB 1361, which would expand patient choice by prohibiting insurers from limiting consumers’ pharmacy options. Two Republicans and five Democrats supported the bill in committee, allowing it to narrowly advance over the opposition of four Republicans and two Democrats. It went on to pass second reading on the House floor.

There’s no shortage of upcoming votes to watch.

  • The full House will debate two bills that passed the Appropriations committee. HB 1047 would help expedite licensure for doctors from other states. HB 1160 would continue state oversight of surgical technicians and assistants, and expand requirements for their licensure, including criminal background checks.
  • The House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee is scheduled to hear HB 1390, which would prevent people who report an emergency drug or alcohol overdose from being arrested or prosecuted.
  • The House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee will examine HB 1374, a bill that was in development for a long time before being introduced. It would require freestanding emergency rooms to notify patients about potentially high costs and let them know about options to visit an urgent care or primary care office instead. While the idea behind this bill had bipartisan support, it was introduced with only Democratic sponsors.
  • The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee will get to work on two bills. HB 1212 would create a temporary tax credit (available from 2016 to 2018) for Medicaid providers to compensate them for some of their unreimbursed costs. SB 6, which has sat idle for quite some time, would require Connect for Health Colorado to refer consumers to licensed insurance brokers for help enrolling in a health plan.
  • Across the Capitol, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will vote on a couple of bills. SB 162 would place greater responsibility on Medicaid enrollees to seek out providers designated to serve Medicaid patients. It would do so by allowing cost-sharing for enrollees when they see non-approved providers. SB 170 would allow Medicaid recipients to purchase private insurance through Connect for Health Colorado. Both bills have already had testimony.
  • The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee will consider a pair of proposals. HB 1210 would prohibit mental health providers from practicing sexual orientation conversion therapy with anyone under 18, and HB 1266 would allow the state to confiscate and destroy marijuana grown with unauthorized pesticides.

New bills of note:

  • HB 1425 would allow child care centers to accept kids for stays of 15 days or less without requiring proof of immunizations, as long as the centers notify all parents that this is the case.
  • HB 1436 is the latest attempt to regulate the appearance of edible marijuana. This bill would ban pot products shaped like a human, animal or fruit.

And finally, the Hospital Provider Fee bills that were introduced with the budget last week — HB 1420 and HB 1421 — are on the House calendar for next Friday, April 15.