Colorado legislature passes major spending overhaul to boost rural areas |

Colorado legislature passes major spending overhaul to boost rural areas

Reclassification of hospital provider fee top agenda item

Brian Eason
The Denver Post
Students from Standley Lake High School gather on the second floor in the atrium of the Colorado State capitol for a class photo during a field trip March 27 in Denver.
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post

On the final day of the 2017 legislative session, the Colorado House of Representatives gave final approval to perhaps the most significant — and controversial — bill of the session: the reclassification of the hospital provider fee.

The wide-ranging bill touches virtually every aspect of state spending, boosting funding to hospitals, schools and roads; mortgaging state buildings; raising pot taxes; cutting business taxes; and increasing medical co-pays on the poor.

The measure avoids a $528 million cut in payments to hospitals while generating $2 billion by mortgaging state buildings. It fulfills a long-standing Democratic priority to pull the program — under which the state collects fees from hospitals and matches the money with federal dollars that are redistributed to cover the costs of uncompensated care — out from under the state’s constitutional spending limits. It also lowers the spending cap under by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights by $200 million.

The House approved the measure with wide bipartisan support, 49-16, sending the measure to the governor over the objections of a split Republican caucus, torn between ideological objections and a desire to boost funding to their districts.

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