Policy & Advocacy
The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) takes great pride in its ability to provide federal and state lawmakers with the tools they need to make informed decisions on the health care matters affecting their constituents. CHA provides legislators information regarding key subjects such as health care reform and its effects on both Colorado’s hospitals and the patients they serve. CHA also helps to educate elected officials about the important role that Colorado’s hospitals play in their communities and the many ways that state lawmakers can work with their local hospitals to support a healthier constituency.
CHA’s annual legislative agenda (click here for the 2013 edition) is guided by the three key policy principles identified in the CHA Strategic Plan: coverage and access to care; regulatory streamlining; and payment reform. These principles inform the Association’s decisions to support or oppose legislation throughout the session, and provide a roadmap for developing the legislative agenda and introducing legislation on an annual basis.
Coverage and access to care
CHA believes that increasing coverage and access to care is essential to improving the overall physical and economic health of the state. More than 800,000 Coloradans currently lack any health insurance and another 675,000 are underinsured, meaning their insurance coverage is inadequate for covering the costs of their family’s care. This means that more than one million Coloradans are likely not receiving the preventive care, early diagnoses and treatment they need in order to live healthy, productive lives and avoid unnecessary use of the emergency room.
Hospitals provide care for thousands of under- and uninsured patients annually. In 2011, Colorado hospitals incurred more than $1.7 billion in uncompensated care costs as a result of providing care to these vulnerable individuals. Additionally, hospitals serve patients with government health plans, such as Medicare and Medicaid, which reimburse only a portion of the cost of their care. In order to continue to serve their communities, hospitals often are forced to shift these unreimbursed costs to insured patients and businesses, which increases the cost of care for all.
CHA is committed to promoting strategies and public policy that increases coverage and access across Colorado, including the hospital provider fee and efforts to strengthen and expand Medicaid coverage. Increasing coverage leads to healthier outcomes for patients and reduces uncompensated care for hospitals, helping to address the problem of rising health care costs.
Colorado hospitals are a key driver of the state’s economy, providing more than 72,000 jobs and contributing nearly $19 billion to the state’s economy each year. Hospitals also are one of the most heavily regulated sectors in the state and nation. Duplicative regulations and a lack of coordinated application of rules and regulations can lead to increased costs and implementation delays for hospitals, which can impede their ability to provide timely care for those they serve.
While CHA recognizes the important role that regulations play in the health care system, the Association is committed to identifying opportunities for reform and streamlining that simplify the regulation processes and eliminate duplicate regulation that does not improve care and benefit patients. By streamlining regulation, CHA seeks to help develop an environment that is efficient and effective, encouraging hospitals and health systems to meet the needs of their patients and enabling them to respond to improvements to the payment and delivery system.
Because Colorado is home to an incredibly diverse health care system that includes a vast array of facilities of different types, sizes and locations, it is important that CHA encourages a regulatory environment that is flexible enough to meet the unique needs of urban, suburban and rural facilities and that encourages integrated care. By streamlining regulations and encouraging flexibility, CHA seeks to make Colorado a great place for all hospitals and health systems to provide safe, affordable care to the communities they serve.
CHA believes it is important to examine alternate payment methods that promote high-value services and quality patient outcomes while helping to make health care affordable. To that end, CHA supports payment reform strategies with risk-based, patient outcome-oriented payment structures, including Medicaid and private-payer pilot programs, as an alternative to fee-for-service payment structures.
CHA is committed to working with the state government, policy makers, other provider groups and key stakeholders to identify and develop payment models that move away from fee-for-service, while simultaneously helping to ensure that regulatory policy accommodates visionary changes to the health care delivery system. CHA believes that payment structures that reward patient outcomes – rather than patient volume – are critical to decreasing the rising rate of health care costs in Colorado.
Click here to read the CHA 2013 legislative agenda.