Colorado lawmakers reach sweeping deal to stave off $528 million cut to hospitals (Denver Post)

by Brian Eason (May 4, 2017)

Top Colorado lawmakers on Thursday announced a major agreement to avert potentially catastrophic cuts to the state’s hospitals, capping off weeks of tense negotiation on the far-reaching package.

The measure would reverse a planned $528 million cut to hospitals, while boosting funding to roads and schools. It also would provide a tax break to small businesses, hike recreational marijuana taxes, increase Medicaid co-pays and lower the state’s spending cap by $200 million…

The final obstacle was a provision to increase the cost of health care for patients with Medicaid, the government insurance program for lower-income residents.

Democrats initially balked at a GOP proposal to increase all co-pays to the federal maximum, but this week agreed to a deal that would double co-pays on prescription drugs from $1.25 to $2.50. The co-pays for urgent care and outpatient services also would increase, but the agreement would maintain existing exemptions for children and a number of women’s health services.

But even the reduced hike in co-pays will be a bitter pill to swallow for many Democrats.

“I think that really does hurt some people who are struggling,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy, a Lakewood Democrat. “There are a lot of things in this bill a lot of us have concerns about, but I think we’ve kept our eyes on the prize. I think we all know that converting the provider fee into an enterprise is a critical priority.”

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