Guest Opinion: Legislation will help rural hospitals

As the 2017 session winds down it appears that Colorado lawmakers are close to reaching a bi-partisan agreement on SB17-267, “Sustainability of Rural Colorado,” allowing us to avoid major cuts and closures to rural hospitals by creating the Colorado healthcare affordability and sustainability enterprise.  The bill clarifies that the creation of the new enterprise to charge and collect the fee is the creation of a new government-owned business that provides business services to hospitals as an enterprise for purposes of TABOR and related statutes and does not constitute the qualification of an existing government-owned business as a new enterprise that would require or authorize downward adjustment of the TABOR state fiscal year spending limit or the referendum C cap.

For me, this is one of the most important pieces of legislation to come out of the capitol this year, as it allows rural medical facilities to stay open and well-funded. Without this legislation, there would have been a looming threat in my district of possible hospital closures. This in turn would have required citizens in rural Colorado to travel long distances for emergency and preventative healthcare. In addition to the potential loss of critical healthcare, the economic impact to rural Colorado for loss of jobs that accompany healthcare facility closures would have been devastating to House District 62 and southern Colorado.

This bill is making its way to the Senate Appropriations committee for a vote before the end of the 2017 session, but with the current bi-partisan commitment I expect this bill will move forward.

This legislation is incredibly important to southern Colorado and my district and I am very pleased that we are working together to support our rural healthcare facilities and maximize the federal matching money for this program.