Hospital Provider Fee Could Escape TABOR’s Reach

by Ali Manor

The attorney general said the fee could constitutionally be classified as an enterprise

By Tony Flesor

LAW WEEK COLORADO

Colorado’s General Assembly was given the charge last week of resolving a debate regarding whether Colorado’s Hospital Provider Fee can be used to settle the state’s budget woes.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman issued a highly anticipated legal opinion Feb. 29 providing her legal analysis that went against the Republican party’s hopes by saying constitutional boundaries would allow the fee to be used consistent with Democrats’ wishes. According to Coffman’s opinion, the fee could be able to taken out from under the scope of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and treated as a government enterprise. According to Coffman’s analysis, the issue should now be settled by the state’s General Assembly.

Although Coffman is a Republican, she said the decision was not motivated by politics. “The purpose of this formal opinion, and any other, is not to comment upon the wisdom or desirability of the General Assembly’s past or prospective legislation or the court’s decisions; it is only to apply independent judgment to a question of law, in light of current legal authority,” she wrote.

The Hospital Provider Fee has been under contention since its creation in 2009. It was created under the Colorado Health Care Affordability Act and was imposed upon most state hospitals’ inpatient and outpatient services to be matched with federal Medicaid funds in order to increase the money paid to hospitals under the Medicaid and Colorado Indigent Care Program and prevent hospitals from providing unpaid-for services to low-income populations.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the March 7, 2016 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.