Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – July 2023

By Doris Beaver ~

The first session of the 74th General Assembly adjourned on June 9. Looking over the legislation, phrases such as “increase ttransparency for patients, “more transparency,” “improve health equity for patients across Colorado,” save money on prescription drugs” and “protect consumers from high costs,” are phrases taken from significant pieces of legislation, but may be hard for individuals to realize, especially with inflation at the present level.

For his second term, Governor Polis has emphasized his administration would “partner with the legislation to make sure all Coloradans can access high-quality, affordable health care.

Here is a review of the bills covered this session.

Senate Bill 23-031: 

SB031 was signed by the Governor on May 1, and broadens clinical training opportunities in geriatric medicine for graduate students. The program will be based at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver. 

Specifically spelled out in the legislative declaration is: 1) improve placement of students in experiential clinical training opportunities, prioritizing rural and underserved communities; 2) coordinate with graduates of the program to become geriatric trainers for future students; and 3) Increase the number of clinical training sites across Colorado, specifically in rural and under-served communities. Most welcomed by those communities. 

House Bill 23-1032:

HB 1032 concerned “Civil Remedy Provisions or Civil Rights Violations of Persons With Disabilities,” and was signed by Governor Polis at a signing ceremony on May 25th. This piece of legislation provided three primary clarifications about the remedies a person with a disability is entitled to under current Colorado law. 

HB 1032 amends Colorado Revised Statutes 24-34-802 with these three clarifications:  

  • an individual with a disability, as defined in section 24-34-301 (5.6), must not by reason of the individual’s disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities provided by a public entity; 
  • the types of monetary damages in which a person with a disability is entitled include damages for emotional distress; and
  • a person with a disability is entitled to both a court order requiring compliance and either monetary damage or a statutory penalty.  
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Senate Bill 23-004:

Signed by the Governor in a signing ceremony on May 4th. The bill is a step toward addressing the magnitude of the mental health crisis so prevalent in this country. 

Skeptics may scoff at the statistics, but Children’s Hospital and the Center for Disease Control have recognized the growing increase in youth mental health across Colorado. 

SB 004 concerns employment of certain school-based therapists and provides for and provides for more in-depth background checks such as finger prints, Such a therapist would need to have qualifications consistent with a student’s individualized education program; a school or school district may employ an eligible school-based therapist to work in coordination with licensed special service providers at the school or school district co-ordinating mental health for students – all of these to help more available to students with mental health problems.

House Bill 23-1052:

HB 1052 concerns a veteran who has individual employability status being treated equivalently to a veteran who has 100 percent permanent disability when determining eligibility for any state veterans benefit.

Older veterans and their advocates have long voiced feelings they cannot count on what was promised to them. The legislative declaration found and declared that “when the United States department of veterans affairs (division) determines that a veteran with a disability has individual unemployability status, it means that the veteran has a service-connected disability or a combination of service-connected disabilities that are so severe that the veteran is unable to keep substantially gainful employment that supports the veteran financially.”

Senate Bill 23-033:  

SB 33 concerns “Prior Authorization for Medicaid Coverage of Medications Treating Serious Mental Illness.” This bill prohibits the Department of Health care policy and financing from imposing prior authorization, step therapy, and fail first requirements for medicaid coverage of a prescription drug as indicated on federally approved labels, to treat serious mental health disorders. SB 033 was deemed loss at the end of the session.

House Bill 23-1122:

HB 1122 concerned “The Modification of the State Income Tax Credit for Purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance.” The bill concerned different levels of income and filing status, and while quite complicated and involved considered detail to apply for, the amount of credit claimed was not to exceed $150.00 and commences on January 1, 2024.

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