FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: March 21, 2023
CONTACT: Priya Telang, email@example.com, 313-820-2428
Sponsors of HB1215 to Address Expensive Hospital Facility Fees Restructure Bill, Urge Need for 3rd Party Data
Adjustments to HB23-1215 include a study on where, when, and how facility fees are being charged
DENVER – Yesterday, state Representatives Emily Sirota (D-Denver) and Andrew Boesenecker (D-Fort Collins) and Senators Kyle Mullica (D-Thornton) and Lisa Cutter (D-Littleton) announced a more limited proposal on House Bill 1215 – a bill to limit unexpected hospital facility fees – after listening to concerns from consumers, providers, and hospitals.
Facility fees are charges that are being imposed on patients more and more often by large hospital systems that own freestanding clinics and providers. They can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars in addition to charges for actual services, and typically come as a surprise to the patient when they receive a bill.
While the original bill would have placed broad limits on facility fees, the newly structured bill is now focused more narrowly on gathering critical data about facility fees, increasing transparency for consumers, and limiting facility fees in common-sense situations.
Under the proposed version, House Bill 1215 provisions would include:
- Exemptions for rural (critical access hospitals) and “sole community hospitals” and from proposed facility fee charge limitations;
- Limitations on where hospital systems can charge facility fees, facility fee charges would not be allowed for primary care, already-no-cost preventative services, or telehealth
- Prior notification with estimates on the facility fee that would be incurred by a patient
- Adds a third-party study to be commissioned by the Attorney General
Hospitals have claimed there will be “catastrophic losses” in funding, patient care, and clinic locations under the initial bill, but have provided no evidence to support those claims. Not every hospital system in Colorado charges facility fees, and third-party data is central to fact-checking discrepancies in claims from hospital systems on when, why, and how facility fees are charged and where that funding is going.
Additionally, under the Affordable Care Act, preventative services are required to be covered by insurance at no cost to patients. Corporate hospital systems should not be allowed to undermine federal legislation by directly charging patients additional facility fees for preventative services.
“We have been working with hospitals to address concerns since before the bill was introduced in February,” said Isabel Cruz, Policy Director at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “With the proposed changes, we have emphasized consumer protections and included provisions that are common sense. Why should a patient get a bill for a service they thought they could count on to be free?”
A recent poll shows that 81 percent of Coloradans support a ban on facility fees, emphasizing the need for a study on the impact that facility fees have, not only on hospitals but the financial weight on consumers as well.
Nearly 70 percent of US physicians are employed by hospital systems or private equity firms, hospital consolidation has a catastrophic impact on patient care and hospital service pricing. A study by the Journal of Health Economics indicates that prices increase by an average of 14.1 percent after acquisition by a larger health system, making consumers responsible for the increased cost of care.
HB23-1215 is backed by Health Care without Hidden Costs, a coalition of dozens of organizations and individuals focused on making health care more transparent and affordable.