Colorado Senate Republicans, via the GOP-led Senate Finance Committee, voted 3-2 May 10 to kill a bill that would have shifted the state’s hospital provider fee to an enterprise fund, a measure that would have freed millions of dollars from Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights restrictions that would have provided more funding for roads and education.
Despite partisan legislative bickering as to whether the fee constituted a tax, the move to an enterprise fund was met over the past several months with bipartisan support, to include the legal blessing of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.
The bill, which would have taken some Medicaid funding, paid in part by Colorado hospitals, and shifted those funds outside TABOR limits, garnered local support. The Regional Business Alliance, Colorado Springs Forward and UCCS supported the disentanglement, however, Republicans in opposition called the fund a tax and said there is a spending problem related to the expansion of Medicaid.
The Colorado Hospital Association, which also supported the enterprise fund solution, issued the following statement:
“The Colorado Hospital Association is extremely disappointed that our legislative leaders couldn’t come to a compromise on the Hospital Provider Fee enterprise this year — despite bipartisan support and no testimony opposing the bill in its final committee hearing — and in effect, didn’t listen to their constituents or the broad organizational support through the Fix the Glitch coalition who strongly advocated for this change,” said Steven J. Summer, CHA president and CEO. “However, we are grateful to Speaker Hullinghorst and Senator Crowder for their leadership on this issue, as well as to the many others — including our member hospitals and health systems — who supported this important effort. Our hospitals recognize the critical nature of the priorities in their communities that are subject to budget constraints this year — including health care, education and transportation.”
“Because the legislature was unable to fix this glitch this year — even though it was within their purview to do so — CHA is committed to finding a long-term solution that supports the vital services provided by our members as well as the broader fiscal, education and infrastructure needs of Coloradans,” according to a news release from the CHA. “Otherwise, we risk facing detrimental health care budget cuts – mostly on the backs of our rural hospitals – in the years to come.”
A story published in the Colorado Springs Business Journal in January detailing the arguments for and against the proposal can be viewed here.