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On the Docket: Tax Credits for Seniors, Bills at the Finish Line and What to Watch This Week

On the Docket: Tax Credits for Seniors, Bills at the Finish Line and What to Watch This Week

Legislators, in an effort to help seniors age at home as long as possible, have advanced a bill that would provide income tax credits to help offset the cost of upgrading their houses. House Bill 1143 passed the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee with bipartisan support on a 10-3 vote. However, it faces looming questions, especially about its cost. 

Several Republican committee members said that despite their “yes” votes, questions about the price tag need to be addressed in upcoming hearings.  The bill would decrease General Fund revenue by an estimated $14 million for half of fiscal year (FY) 2014-15, and that figure would rise to $29.1 million in FY 2015-16 and $31.3 million in FY 2016-17, based on the bill’s fiscal note.

Amy Downs, CHI’s Senior Director for Policy and Analysis, and Senior Analyst Tasia Sinn presented information at the hearing about the expected increase in Colorado’s senior population as well as anticipated Medicaid expenditures to cover nursing home care. While CHI does not take positions on bills, our staff is available to provide evidence-based information to the legislature. 

Surveys show that most seniors want to stay in a home or apartment in their community, they said.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Conti (R) and Sen. Larry Crowder (R), would provide a state income tax credit of up to $3,000 per year for home improvements by taxpayers who are 75 and older. It now heads to the House Finance Committee.

In other health care news, three more bills we’ve been tracking were up for discussion late last week. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed two of them: Senate Bill 14, which requires registration for medical marijuana growers, and House Bill 1067, which requires continuing professional development for licensed psychologists. A rewritten version of SB 14 passed 5-0 after more than three hours of testimony. It now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee. HB 1067 was amended and is moving to Senate Appropriations after a 4-1 vote.

The House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee voted 7-6 to postpone indefinitely Senate Bill 52, which sought to require legislative oversight and approval for bonuses of the state’s health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado. As in the bill’s first hearing in the Senate, the result was a party-line vote. Another bill that is focused on the marketplace, Senate Bill 19, would require a full audit. It has yet to be heard in the Democratic-controlled House.

Yesterday morning, the same committee came to unanimous agreement on Senate Bill 53, passing it 13-0. This bill would allow health care providers to dispense emergency supplies of naloxone, a proven anti-overdose drug, to first responders as well as friends and family of those with substance use disorders. The vote sends SB 53 to the House floor.

A couple of bills are near the finish line. House Bill 1029 – statewide reimbursement parity for telehealth services – passed its final reading in the Senate, and after House approval of Senate amendments earlier this morning it will soon be moving to the governor’s desk. House Bill 1039 – easing restrictions on donating unexpired medications and supplies – has already been delivered for the governor’s signature.

What we’ll be watching for the rest of the week:

Today: The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hear House Bill 1032, which aims to expand the types of professionals allowed to provide mental health care to minors.

Thursday: The House Health, Insurance, & Environment Committee will discuss Senate Bill 71, which would allow pharmacists to substitute equivalent medication to that prescribed by doctors. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hear House Bill 1075, aiming to allow registered naturopathic doctors to treat children under two years old.

Friday: The House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee will consider Senate Bill 116, seeking to prevent needle sticks of police officers during pat-downs, and Senate Bill 128, which would broaden reporting of sexual assaults when forensic tests are conducted.

Last but not least, the Joint Budget Committee is hard at work with figure setting. T-minus 20 days until the Long Bill is scheduled to be introduced in the Senate. We’re buckling up for a busy final two months.