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Case Study: Experiences battling debt drive reform of hospital financial assistance laws in Colorado

IN JUNE 2021, the Colorado General Assembly passed a groundbreaking law to protect hospital patients from the hardships caused by medical debt. This legislation — HB21-1198: Health-care Billing Requirements for Indigent Patients — is a comprehensive response to the experiences of patients and patient advocates attempting to navigate hospital billing practices.

The new law addresses high hospital prices for low-income patients and simplifies the process of applying for financial relief. Additionally, it ensures that hospitals are connecting uninsured patients to Medicaid and other coverage programs when they are eligible, strengthens patient notification provisions and administrative oversight, and empowers patients to file lawsuits and collect attorney’s fees when collections actions are initiated in violation of their rights under the new law.

This brief, co-published with Community Catalyst, tells the story of HB-1198 from conception through passage and the beginning of implementation. It is a story that begins with the experiences of the people in our communities who search in vain for hospital services they can afford, the people who are drowning in hospital bills after a sudden illness or injury, and the people who are suffering long-term financial distress because they were denied access to coverage or financial assistance.

About Community Catalyst

Community Catalyst is a leading non-profit national health advocacy organization dedicated to advancing a movement for health equity and justice. We partner with local, state and national advocates to leverage and build power so all people can influence decisions that affect their health. Health systems will not be accountable to people without a fully engaged and organized community voice. That’s why we work every day to ensure people’s interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and health care are made: in communities, state houses and on Capitol Hill.


Date added

January 14, 2022

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