Overall, the 2017 Colorado Legislative Session approved many bills that will prove beneficial to seniors. Of the 16 bills the Colorado Senior Lobby (CSL) STRONGLY Supported, 11 have either been signed by the governor or are awaiting signature.
Four were voted down in the Senate Committee, typically called the “kill committee”. This is where leader assigns bills to avoid a floor vote that would put the membership on record. (All bills are required to have a committee hearing.)
One bill was voted down in the House Public Health & Human Services Committee.
We also STRONGLY Opposed 3 bills: all were killed in committee.
There was general bi-partisan support for the 11 bills we STRONGLY Supported. Only 2 Senators supported less than half of these Bills: Senators Holbert and Marble, both Republicans.
Cooperation was less prevalent in the House: 19 Republican Representatives supported less than half these bills. These are Representatives: J Becker (45%), Beckman (45%), Buck (36%), Covarrubias (45%), Everett (18%), Humphrey (45%), Lewis (45%), Liston (36%), Lundeen (45%), McKean (45%) Neville (18%), Nordberg (45%), Ransom (45%), Saine (36%), Sias (36%), Van Winkle (36%), Willett (36%), Williams (36%), Wist (36%).
We believe that our mission is to make cost effective decisions when we support a bill. With the increasing senior population, it is important to be aware of the impact on the limited resources in the state’s budget. Also, that we understand the decisions legislators make when deciding how to vote.
There were 18 bills where we were in a Support Position. Of these, 6 have either been signed by the governor or are awaiting signature.
Eight were voted down in the Senate Committee, typically called the “kill committee”. Three were voted down in the Senate Finance Committee, and one in the Senate Public Health & Human Services Committee.
We Opposed 6 bills. One was signed by the Governor, after significant amendments. Four were voted down in a House committee and one in a Senate committee.
Our lobbying efforts were much stronger for bills we STRONGLY Supported or STRONGLY Opposed, compared to those that we limited our position to only support or opposition. You can see a detailed description of our lobbying activities in the article by Jeanette Hensley, part of this month’s newsletter – CLICK HERE.
Brief Description of Bills:
HB17-1087 Office Of Public Guardianship Pilot Program
The bill creates the office of public guardianship (office) within the judicial department to provide legal guardianship services to indigent and incapacitated adults.
The bill delays the creation of the pilot program and the appointment of the director of the pilot program until the fund receives at least $1,700,000 in gifts, grants, and donations.
The office and the fund are repealed, effective June 30, 2021.
HB17-1116 Continue Low-income Household Energy Assistance
Current law provides that the Department of Human Services Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund, the Energy Outreach Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund, and the Colorado Energy Office Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund, receive conditional funding from the severance tax operational fund through the state fiscal year commencing July 1, 2018. The bill extends the conditional funding through the state fiscal year commencing July 1, 2023.
HB17-1126 Medicaid Appeal Review Legal Notice Requirements
Interim Study Committee on Communication Between the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) and Medicaid Clients. The bill requires the administrative law judge, hearing Medicaid appeals to review the legal sufficiency of the notice of action from which the recipient is appealing at the commencement of the appeal hearing if the notice of action concerns the termination or reduction of an existing benefit. If the notice is legally insufficient, the judge shall advise the appellant that he or she may waive the defense of insufficient notice and proceed to a hearing on the merits or may ask the judge to decide the appeal based on the judge’s finding of insufficiency. The judge shall advise the appellant that a legally sufficient notice may be issued in the future and that the state may recoup benefits from the appellant.
The provisions of the bill apply to hearings conducted on and after a certain date.
HB17-1139 Medicaid Provider Compliance Billing Safety Rules
The bill subjects a provider of Medicaid services to a civil monetary penalty if the provider improperly bills or seeks collection from a Medicaid recipient or the estate of a Medicaid recipient. The provider is also liable for a refund to the recipient of any amount unlawfully received from the recipient, including statutory interest, and for all amounts submitted to a collection agency in the name of the recipient. If, within 30 days, a provider voids the bill, returns any amounts unlawfully received, and makes every effort to resolve the collection action for the recipient, the provider is not subject to the penalties outlined in the bill. A provider is not subject to the penalties outlined in the bill if a person knowingly misrepresents his or her Medicaid coverage status to the provider and the provider submits documentation relating to the misrepresentation. A provider may appeal the imposition of a civil monetary penalty.
In addition, the bill allows the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (Department) to require a corrective action plan from any provider who fails to comply with rules, manuals, or bulletins issued by the department, the medical services board, or the department’s fiscal agent or from a provider whose activities endanger the health, safety, or welfare of a Medicaid recipient.
HB17-1143 Audits of Medicaid Client Correspondence
Interim Study Committee on Communication Between the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) and Medicaid Clients. The bill directs the office of the state auditor (OSA) to conduct or cause to be conducted an audit of client correspondence, including letters and notices, sent to clients or potential clients in Medicaid programs. The audits will be conducted in 2020 and 2023 and thereafter at the discretion of the state auditor.
HB17-1253 Protect Seniors From Financial Abuse
The bill requires that if certain licensed securities professionals (qualified individuals), while acting within the scope of their employment, reasonably suspect that an elderly or at-risk person is the subject of financial exploitation, the broker-dealer or investment adviser shall report the suspected financial exploitation to the commissioner of securities (commissioner). The commissioner is required to forward the report to local law enforcement and to the county department of human or social services. The commissioner has access to records to conduct an investigation, but the records are not subject to an open records request.
HB17-1264 PACE Ombudsman Program Add Local Ombudsmen
The existing all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE) program includes the state PACE ombudsman. The bill adds local PACE ombudsmen to the state ombudsman’s office (office).
The bill contains provisions relating to local PACE ombudsmen, including training, designation as representatives of the office, access to PACE centers and participants, authority to file complaints on behalf of PACE participants, and immunity from liability.
The bill includes time frames for the state PACE ombudsman to complete duties and functions of the office, including establishing statewide policies and procedures for investigating and resolving complaints relating to PACE programs and training local PACE ombudsmen.
The department of human services shall report to the joint budget committee and to its legislative committee of reference concerning the long-term care ombudsman program and the state PACE ombudsman program, including program caseloads and the need, if any, for additional local ombudsmen.
B17-1284 Data System Check For Employees Serving At-risk Adults
The bill establishes a state-level program (program) within the Department of Human Services (Department) for a check of the department’s Colorado Adult Protective Services (CAPS) data system. The CAPS check verifies whether a person is substantiated in a case of mistreatment of an at-risk adult, as defined in the bill. A person must be substantiated in a case of mistreatment of an at-risk adult, and the administrative appeals process must be concluded, before the person’s name is included in a CAPS check for an employer.
SB17-091 Allow Medicaid Home Health Services In Community
Under current law, for some clients, home health services under the Medicaid program may only be provided in the client’s residence. The bill removes the location restriction for home health services to comply with changes to federal Medicaid rules that allow for services to be delivered in the community as well as the residence.
SB17-121 Improve Medicaid Client Correspondence
The bill requires the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (Department) to engage in an ongoing process to improve Medicaid client communications, including client letters and notices, that concern eligibility for or the denial, reduction, suspension, or termination of a benefit. Among other requirements included in the bill, the department shall ensure that client communications are accurate, readable, and understandable, clearly conveying the purpose of the letter or notice and the specific action or actions that the client must take in response to the letter or notice.
The department shall also ensure that letters and notices affecting clients with disabilities, seniors, and other vulnerable populations are appropriately prioritized for improvement consistent with the requirements in the bill. The department shall receive feedback from the work group established to provide customer and community partner feedback regarding client communications as part of the department’s involvement in state-level decision-making relating to computer system changes and training.
SB17-245 Tenancies One Month To One Year Notice
Currently, a tenancy of one month or more but less than 6 months may be terminated by either party with 7 days’ notice. The bill extends the notice to 21 days. The bill also requires 21 days’ notice for a landlord to increase rent in tenancies of one month or longer but less than 6 months.
Link to our article on the 2017 Scorecards – CLICK HERE