The CHI Weekly Legislative Update: February 3

This week and next week we will be updating the list of health-related bills we are watching as they are introduced. The deadline for all bills was Wednesday, February 1. Many of the bills we are tracking are already moving through committees, which will be noted on our bill tracking list.

Two more themes emerged in the health policy realm this week: a focus on long-term services and supports (LTSS) and improved transparency surrounding the services hospitals do and do not provide and about their charity care policies for uninsured patients.

The focus on LTSS is timely, with lawmakers recognizing the need to address a growing aging population and to create an efficient, consumer-driven LTSS system. Two bills were introduced with the goal of ensuring that individuals in need of LTSS are provided a range of options as they try to find the setting that best suits their preferences and needs. SB 12-127 would allow LTSS providers to be designated as “health homes” and to be incorporated into Medicaid’s accountable care collaborative (ACCs) and accountable care organizations as defined in the Affordable Care Act. SB 12-128 creates a three-year alternative care facilities pilot program designed to increase the use of alternative care facilities in the Medicaid program for individuals currently enrolled in a nursing facility who may achieve the same or better outcomes in the alternative care facility.

Another bill that we discussed last week, SB 12-023, would require organizations and staff who enroll individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid services into to ACCs to provide information about the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) program.  The PACE program is a Medicare and Medicaid managed care program that provides a comprehensive range of health care and support services to frail elderly ages 55 and older.  This bill would ensure that eligible populations maintain a wide range of choices for care. All three proposals are summarized in our bill tracking list.

Two hospital bills would address questions of transparency in the beginning stages of the service delivery process. SB 12-093 would require hospitals to notify patients which services they do and do not provide before initiating care. SB 12-134 would require that hospitals communicate the charity program and discount program available to uninsured patients in a clear manner.  In addition the proposal would prohibit hospitals from charging a patient more than the cost of care.

Allison Summerton is a legislative liaison and research analyst at CHI.