Marnier LeBlanc, Colorado Times Reporter

Colorado’s House of Representatives approved a bill Monday that will help policymakers better track the cost of Freestanding Emergency Rooms, or FSERs, which are affiliated with hospitals but are not directly connected to them.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, would require that FSERs have their own identification number so that the state can correctly link costs and claims information to these facilities and provide that information to patients and lawmakers. 

Many FSERs currently use the identification number of the hospital with which they are affiliated to file claims and cost information, a fact which advocates of the legislation say makes it extremely difficult to analyze the costs associated with FSERs on their own when compared with emergency rooms at hospitals. 

The legislative action was praised by the progressive Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, which advocates on behalf of healthcare consumers.

“Simply creating a unique ID number will provide essential information about the overall costs from FSERs as opposed to those from hospitals,” CCHI’s Adam Fox said in a press release. “This will help policymakers better understand how FSERs are affecting consumers’ costs. We hope the Senate will also support this proposal and send it on to Governor.”

This information could help provide transparency to consumers and keep patients in Colorado from facing unexpected emergency room prices at FSERs. These stand-alone emergency rooms make it quick and easy to access care, but that care often comes with a heftier price tag. 

The facilities are most commonly located in higher income neighborhoods, and have been cropping up in big numbers in the state in recent years. 

HB 1282 now awaits Senate action.

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