Colorado hospitals deny shifting more costs to commercial insurers

Colorado hospitals have rejected a draft analysis claiming they shifted more costs to commercial insurers instead of using the state's hospital provider fee to charge them less, according to The Gazette.

Executives of four hospitals, along with a Colorado Hospital Association official, voted Feb. 26 not to accept the draft analysis findings, which suggested that commercial insurance premiums have increased as a result of rising hospital costs and margins.

The vote, during the Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise board meeting, means the draft analysis will not be finalized or forwarded to state lawmakers, according to The Gazette.

The analysis, released in January by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, concluded that despite increased Medicaid payments to hospitals, less bad debt, less charity care write-offs and expansions in insurance coverage, hospitals failed to shift less cost to commercial insurers.

At the same time, the analysis found hospital costs grew about 59 percent from 2009 to 2017, while adjusted discharges only climbed 14.2 percent t over the same period.  

Overall, the analysis found that hospitals could have saved commercial consumers $7.9 billion between 2009 and 2017. 

The Colorado Hospital Association argued the findings were "biased" and "negatively directed toward hospitals," according to The Gazette. But the publication states healthcare experts contend the report is credible.

Marc Williams, a Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing spokesperson, told The Gazette said the agency "stand[s] by the report" and may issue a finalized version on its own.


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