Colorado hospital 'bed tax' is legal, court rules

A Denver district court has ruled that Colorado hospital fees do not violate the state's taxpayer bill of rights, according to The Denver Post.

Eight things to know:

1. The fees, a Colorado Medicaid funding mechanism, have brought in more than $4.6 billion to the state in the last decade, according to the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

2. The March 6 ruling found that the original hospital provider fee and subsequent healthcare affordability and sustainability fee are "fees, and not taxes" and not subject to the bill of rights provisions, a health department news release states.

3. The ruling was in favor of the health department.

4. The TABOR Foundation in 2015 reportedly challenged the constitutionality of the fees in court. According to the Post, the hospital provider fee, referred to as a "bed tax" in other states, is imposed on hospital stays.

5. The health department said the March 6 ruling found that Senate Bill 17-267, which created the healthcare affordability and sustainability fee, "does not violate the single subject requirement of the Colorado Constitution."

6. "With this ruling, Medicaid is able to pay higher reimbursements to hospitals, which is especially important to rural hospitals," said Kim Bimestefer, health department executive director. "The second thing it does is continue funding both the Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus expansions which helped lower the uninsured rate to 6.5 percent. Just those two things — lower uninsured rate and increased hospital reimbursements — are powerful drivers of the economy while allowing us to take care of people who need it most."

7. The original hospital provider fee program was enacted in 2009. The program involved the collection of fees from Colorado hospitals, which were matched by the federal government and then redistributed to hospitals.

8. Senate Bill 17-267 was subsequently enacted by state lawmakers, creating the Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise and the healthcare affordability and sustainability fee. It also ended the hospital provider fee program.


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