Price Transparency and Medical Debt Bill Advances in Colorado Legislature

The price transparency and medical debt bill would prohibit certain debt collection actions for hospitals not in compliance with federal price transparency laws. An amended version was passed in the House as the state’s legislative session winds down.

05/11/2022 12:45 P.M.

3 minute read

Colorado’s legislative session is scheduled to wrap up later this week, meaning bills will soon be heading to the governor’s desk for approval—including one on price transparency and medical debt.

ACA International is following the bill, which would prohibit a hospital, individual or company collecting debt on behalf of the hospital, from taking certain debt collection actions if the hospital is not in compliance with federal price transparency laws.

The bill, H.B. 1285, was unanimously approved by the Colorado Senate in a third reading on May 3 and is currently under consideration in the state House.

The House met on May 10 for consideration of numerous bills, including H.B. 1285.

According to the bill text, it does not:

  • Prohibit a hospital from billing a patient or health insurer for items or services provided to the patient; or
  • Require a hospital to refund a payment made to the hospital for items or services provided to a patient.

Under the bill proposal, a hospital that initiates or pursues a prohibited collection action is subject to a penalty equal to the amount of the debt and must refund any amount paid on the debt and pay attorney fees and costs.

Additionally, the bill makes attempting to collect the debt an unfair practice under the Colorado Fair Debt Collections Act.

According to an article from State of Reform, during discussions on the bill in the state Senate, the bipartisan sponsors of the bill argued that H.B. 1285 “encourages more transparency around fees and charges so patients know the costs of procedures beforehand and can shop around at different providers for more economical services.”

However, several Republican lawmakers voiced concerns that the bill “would invite an increase in individual private action lawsuits against a complicated set of federal laws and regulation,” according to the article.

Bill Amendments

The Senate amended the bill to only allow complaints from patients against noncompliant hospitals related to their own care, State of Reform reports.

The House also passed an amendment to give smaller critical access hospitals with less than 25 beds more time to comply.

A provision of the bill authorizing the department of public health and environment, in considering a hospital’s license renewal application, to review whether the hospital is or has been in compliance with federal hospital price transparency laws, was also removed during the amendment process.

If the bill passes, it will take effect in February 2023 for smaller hospitals and in August 2022 for all other hospitals.

The House unanimously approved the bill with the Senate’s amendments and voted to repass the legislation 64-1 during the May 10 hearing. The bill is now eligible to send to the governor’s desk, which would be in the next week. At that time, the governor has 30 days to veto or sign the bill.

State Law Education

For more updates on state laws and trends, this quarterly webinar series from ACA, “State Specifics for Collectors,” will eliminate confusion and help trainers, compliance officers and collectors in the ARM industry gain a better understanding of the most important state “can and cannots” to remain compliant on every call, no matter the consumer location. Stefanie Jackman, partner at Troutman Pepper, Abigail Pressler, general counsel at NCB Management Services Inc., and Nicholas Prola, general counsel at Professional Finance Company Inc., will lead this session.

This webinar is from 2 to 3 p.m. CDT, May 19. Visit the registration page here.

If you have executive leadership updates or other member news to share with ACA, contact our communications department at [email protected]. View our publications page for more information and our news submission guidelines here.

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