On Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder) presented House Bill (HB) 16-1420, Colorado Hospital Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise (CHASE), to the House Committee on Appropriations. The bill proposes creating an enterprise in which the Hospital Affordability and Sustainability Fee – a program similar to Colorado’s existing Hospital Provider Fee (HPF) – sits. This action removes HPF revenue from the General Fund, allowing the state to avoid cutting funding to hospitals, roads and schools in future years. A companion bill (HB 16-1421) provides funding to transportation, the severance tax fund and K-12 and higher education, if HB 16-1420 is passed.
In introducing the bill, the Speaker said, “This bill is among the most important bills we [the Colorado Legislature] will consider this session for one clear reason: Its adoption would ultimately touch the life of every single Coloradan. If you drive on roads, send your children to public schools, need health care or hope to keep state colleges and universities affordable, you – and each of your constituents – are touched by this bill.”
Following the Speaker’s presentation, the committee heard testimony in support of HB 16-1420 from a variety of impacted parties, including Katherine Mulready, CHA vice president of legislative policy and chief strategy officer, and Konnie Martin, CEO, San Luis Valley Health, representing the hospital community. Kelly Brough, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce spoke on behalf of the business community, and Bruce Benson, president of the University of Colorado, spoke on behalf of higher education. A number of other leaders from education and transportation also spoke in favor of the bill.
After hearing all testimony, the bill passed the Committee on a 7-6 party-line vote. The House is expected to debate the bill in the upcoming week.