Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – May 2023
By Doris Beaver ~
Senate Bill 23-033:
SB 033 legislation concerns “Prior Authorization Exemption for Medical Coverage of Medications Treating Serious Mental Illness,” and is covered to inform readers about the inter-workings of the legislature.
What all the following paragraphs condense down to is that if passed and enacted, SB 033 “prohibits the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing from requiring certain utilization management practices for prescription drugs used to treat serious mental health disorders provided under a contract with a health maintenance organization.”
The General Assembly has an in-depth analysis conducted on legislation before making its declaration, and probably a little extra on the issue involved in SB 033, so widely affecting Colorado’s population at almost all ages.
The legislation declaration indicates nearly a quarter million Coloradans are estimated “to be living with serious mental health disorder like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, yet less than half of the population of the state of Colorado receive appropriate care.”
Further, documentation shows that “access to appropriate treatment, including medication, leads to better outcome.”
Individuals living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have similar statistics – twenty-three percent higher inpatient costs. “Prior authorization requirements are also typical for anti-psychotics and associated with a 23 percent increase in the likelihood of imprisonment.”
The analysis ordered by the General Assembly for SB 033 found that “policies restricting access to medications, including prior authorization and step therapy protocol, and fail first requirements may diminish access to necessary medication and ultimately result in insignificant human, economic and social costs.”
These dire statistics are the basis for SB 033 and the General Assembly declaring that access to medications for the treatment of serious mental health disorders be available without access restrictions for Coloradans receiving care through the medical assistance program.”
Various restrictions are included in SB 033 such as for “fail first,” and “serous mental health disorder” (a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder), proper authorization and step therapy). This is an incredibly complicated area of mental health, so readers should expect substantial debate.
SB 033 was assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Feb 13th, but has seen no further action.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 23-033: Senators Robert Rodriguez (D-Arapaho[e], Denver, Jefferson) 866-4852, and Rhonda Fields (D-
(D-Adams, Arapaho[e]) 866-4879; and Representative Judy Amabile, (D-Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Larimer) 866-2578.
House Bill 23-1122:
HB 1122 concerns “the modification of the State income Tax Credit for purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance.”
A credit is to only be allowed for income tax years commencing prior to January 1, 2024 for the following:
- an individual filing a single return with a federal taxable income of less than $50,000 for the tax year for which the credit is claimed; for tax years commencing after January 1, 2024, the taxable income is for less than $100,000.
- two individuals filing a joint return with a federal taxable incomes of less than $50,000 for the tax year for which the credit is claimed if claiming the credit for one policy; for tax years after January 1, 2024, the taxable income is for less than $100,000 for individuals for the tax year for which the credit is claimed if claiming the credit for one policy;
- two individuals filing a single return with a federal taxable income of less than $50,000 for the tax year for which the credit is claimed if claiming the credit for two policies or for a joint policy that covers each individual separately; or
- two individuals filing a joint return with a federal taxable income of less than $200,000 for the year the credit is claimed for two policies or for a joint policy that covers each individual separately.
The above details are sufficient to demonstrate just how complicated the tax credit process can be; if passed and enacted as introduced, the “amount of credit claimed shall not exceed $150 for which a credit is claimed pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes, 39-22-122, all subject to reflect inflation for each income tax year in which the credit is allowed.
The legislative note indicates the tax credit is limited to 5 percent of the total amount paid by a taxpayer for purchase of or making payments toward a long-term care insurance policy.
HB 1122 has “languished” since being introduced on January 27th. It is recommended that reading information on long-term care be done carefully, but probably best to have an accountant familiar with such really do the reading.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 23-033:
Senator Shannon Bird (D-Adams, Jefferson) 866-2843; and Representatives Chris Hansen (D-Denver) 866-4861, and Chris Kolker (D-Arapaho[e]) 866-4833.
Doris Beaver is a freelance journalist who writes from her home high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on senior issues, politics, ethics and environmental issues, and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org