f
ARCHIVED  January 1, 1998

Health reform in works in Colorado Legislature

Leading economic indicators

Health reform in works in Colorado Legislature
Diane Freeman

Business Report Correspondent

State lawmakers are preparing a flurry of legislative proposals for the session that begins Jan. 7, with many proposed bills affecting virtually every business in the state.Proposals range from new rules concerning purchasing of health-care plans by "pools" of companies to requirements that state licensing boards notify licensed professionals of new rule changes.One measure due to come up before the lawmakers is a health-care bill that would allow chambers of commerce and other associations to pool together to purchase health care.
When the Legislature passed House Bills 1210 and 1193 as major health-care reform in 1994, one unintended result of those measures was to prohibit these groups from buying health-care plans.
Sandra Hagen Potter, spokeswoman for the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, the lobbying arm of the Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland chambers of commerce, said her organization has been conferring with the original sponsor of the bill, State Sen. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, about changing it.
State Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Loveland, is House sponsor of the bill to modify the original law.
"When they did the co-op bill in 1994, it allowed private groups to create purchasing pools," Potter said. "There was a feeling that chambers of commerce and associations would pull in low-risk folks. But that isn˜t likely to happen," she said. "By prohibiting the practice, the result has been higher premiums for small business."
Retail wheeling, or deregulation of the electrical power industry, also is slated to come up in the next legislative session. Proposed bills would allow for competition in the electrical-power business.
While customers in Denver can purchase electricity now only from the Public Service Company of Colorado, they would have a choice of vendors – even those from out of state – under deregulation. The idea behind deregulation is to drive down costs for consumers through a competitive market.
State Rep. Dave Owen, R-Greeley, said the new session probably will see a push for increased funding for affordable housing up to $140 million. That proposed funding could affect some 2,000 people throughout the state.
Other measures that may be on the lawmakers˜ plate in the next session include a major bill to revamp taxation, including personal and property taxes. One proposal calls for an increase in corporate tax, he said.
Another proposed bill that may come up before the legislators deals with the state˜s excess revenues and would mark those revenues for expenditures on road and school improvements, he said.
Johnson said he is considering introducing legislation that would notify licensed professionals of any rule changes by state licensing boards.
A veterinarian by profession, Johnson recently discovered that the State Board of Veterinary Medicine had approved some rule changes to the board without notifying him and other veterinarians.
"They were really bad, impractical rules," he said. "I discovered they went into effect in March."
State licensing boards that govern real-estate agents, nurses and other licensed professionals are not required under state law to notify those affected professionals about rule changes. Boards have cited underfunding as a reason for the lack of notice.
"How can you comply if you don˜t even know what the rules are?" Johnson said. "I think you ought to be notified ahead of time."
Another proposed measure he˜s considering would allow consumers to avoid being contacted by telemarketers by placing their names on a no-call list.
"My constituents have asked me to look into this," he said.
Currently, Florida has a no-call list to which telemarketers must adhere under state law. If they call someone whose name is on the list, they can be fined up to $10,000.
To handle the cost of administration, consumers would pay $10 a year to be included on the list. It could be handled through the Office of Consumer Counsel, Johnson said.
He pointed out that charitable organizations are exempt from the no-call rule, however, because their solicitations are covered under the federal right to free speech.
Although telemarketers are opposed to a no-call list, Johnson argues that a list of uninterested parties would simply eliminate poor prospects for their products.

Leading economic indicators

Health reform in works in Colorado Legislature
Diane Freeman

Business Report Correspondent

State lawmakers are preparing a flurry of legislative proposals for the session that begins Jan. 7, with many proposed bills affecting virtually every business in the state.Proposals range from new rules concerning purchasing of health-care plans by "pools" of companies to requirements that state licensing boards notify licensed professionals of new rule changes.One measure due to come up before the lawmakers is a health-care bill that would allow chambers of commerce and other associations to pool together to purchase health care.
When the Legislature passed House Bills 1210…

Related Content