Written by Cass Christopher, Colorado Community Health Network

The Colorado General Assembly adjourned the 2021 legislative session on Tuesday, June 9. Legislators passed a total of 502 bills during this year’s legislative session, many related to health care.

HB21-1232, Standardized Benefit Plan Colorado Option, was the legislature’s attempt at establishing a public health insurance option for the state. This heavily amended bill was one of the most contentious of the session. Under the amended version of HB21-1232, insurance companies will be required to offer the standardized benefit plan in every county in the state by 2023 and will be required to reduce premiums by 15% by 2025. If insurance companies do not meet the premium reduction targets, the Commissioner of Insurance can step in and set rates for services provided by providers and hospitals in an effort to reduce premiums. It is estimated that the standardized benefit plan will be available to approximately 15% of the total population in Colorado.

HB21-1198, Health Care Billing Requirements for Indigent Patients, will expand hospital requirements around providing discount care to the uninsured. This includes requiring the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to develop a standard application for health care facilities to screen uninsured patients for eligibility for public health insurance programs such as Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program), Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), and the Colorado Indigent Care Program, as well as discounted care.

SB21-211, Adult Dental Cap, restores the individual cap for the Health First Colorado Adult Dental Benefit to $1500, which was reduced to $1000 in 2020.

Several bills that expand family planning benefits through Health First Colorado also passed this session. SB21-194, Maternal Health Providers, extends postpartum coverage to 12-months after delivery (previously only 60 days) for people enrolled in Health First Colorado and CHP+, starting July 2022. This bill does not include those covered by Emergency Medicaid for their labor and delivery. SB21-009, Reproductive Health Care Program, provides contraceptive methods and counseling services under Health First Colorado to people without documentation who otherwise would not be eligible for coverage of family planning services. SB21-025, Family Planning Service for Eligible Individuals, requires the state to seek federal authorization to provide family planning services to individuals up to 250% of the federal poverty level.

Other health care bills of interest that passed include:

  • SB21-137, Behavioral Health Recovery Act, increases funding for various existing state behavioral health programs including school-based health centers, the Colorado Health Service Corps, and community mental health services. Additionally, the bill will help finance new state programs to address the behavioral health crisis.
  • SB21-175, Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board, creates a board to perform affordability reviews of prescription drugs and establish upper payment limits on certain drugs.