Eye on the Legislature

June 12, 2017

    House Bill 17-1027, signed by the Governor on June 5th,  removes the repeal date for the Emily Maureen Ellen Keyes Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Fund, thus making it continue indefinitely. Once a driver makes a choice to be an organ/tissue donor, the choice remains in effect until revoked by the applicant. HB 1027 also provides for “codifying that organ donation is an advance directive and a lifetime designation.” The Tissue Donation Awareness Fund is TABOR exempt.

   House Bill 17-1070 was signed by the Governor on June 5th, and requires the Center for Excellence for Advanced Technology and Aerial Firefighting in the Department of Pubic Safety to conduct a study on the use of unmanned aircraft systems within state and local government firefighting operations.

House Bill 17-1115, signed by the Governor on April 24th, is one that warrants careful consideration by anyone considering such a health care plan. Direct primary health care agreements also known as “concierge health care,” have these basic points as set forth in HB 1115:

  • establishes definitions and legal parameters for direct primary health care agreements;
  • specifies that direct primary health care agreements are not an insurance product;
  • specifies that direct primary health care agreements are not regulated by the Division of Insurance in the Department of Regulatory Agencies;
  • prohibits a health care provider from refusing to enter into an agreement or from discontinuing an agreement because of the health status of a patient;
  • providers are allowed to refuse patients if they have reached a practice’s capacity or if a practice is unable to meet the health care needs of the patient;
  • an agreement may be discontinued if the patient fails to pay the required periodic fee, commits fraud or misrepresentation in connection with the agreement, fails to adhere to the recommended treatment plan, or if the provider discontinues operation as a direct primary health care provider. 

    These are the specific points of direct primary health care agreements a person considering such should be aware of, especially with the Republican congressional plan to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare):

  • Direct primary health care agreements are a contract between a provider and patient under which the patient pays a periodic fee in exchange for primary care services from a health care provider;
  • Such agreements, also referred to as concierge health care, are allowed under current law and are not currently regulated by the Commissioner of Insurance in Colorado; and
  • Such agreements allow the use of direct primary health care agreements in conjunction with certain types of low-cost, high-deductible health plans as meeting the requirement that an individual maintain coverage through a qualified health plan.

   House Bill 17-1119, signed by the Governor on June 5th, creates the “Colorado Uninsured Employer Act” and the Uninsured Employer Board. Found to be a necessity by the General Assembly, HB1119 provides for a mechanism for the payment of covered claims to workers injured while employed by employers who have failed to obtain and maintain the required workers compensation and insurance and to avoid excessive delay in payment and financial loss to injured workers. The General Assembly also voiced the intent for the requirements in HB 1119 to “be vigorously enforced in order to protect compliant employers from those who would gain a competitive advantage at the expense of the safety and well-being of employees.”

House Bill 17-1229, signed by the Governor on June 5th, updates workers’ compensation law in Colorado to cover post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for certain Colorado workers.

Under current Colorado law, PTSD is not covered by workers’ compensation insurance for peace officers, emergency medical service providers and firefighters (public safety professionals) unless an event outside of the employee’s typical job responsibilities caused the PTSD.

HB 1229 makes changes to the workers’ compensation law in these significant ways:

  • requires mental impairment claims to be proven by evidence; and
  • evidence must be supported by the testimony of a licensed psychiatrist rather than a physician or a psychologist.

   HB 1229 defines a psychologically traumatic event in two ways:  a) generally outside of a worker’s usual experience that would evoke significant symptoms of distress in a worker in similar circumstances; or b) an event within a worker’s usual experience only when the worker is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist after:

  • experiencing an attempt by another person to cause the worker serious bodily injury or death through the use of deadly force;
  • witnessing a death or the immediate aftermath of a death, of one or more people as the result of a violent event, or
  • repeatedly witnessing the serious bodily injury (or immediate aftermath) of one or more people as a result of am intentional act or of an accident.

   House Bill 17-1277, signed by the Governor on June 5th,  authorizes the state Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to “suspend a driver license if it has been found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the driver involved in an accident causing serious bodily harm or death to any person failed to stop at, as close as possible to, or immediately return to the scene of the accident.”

Under HB 1277, law enforcement is allowed to serve such a suspension notice to the driver personally. Suspension can also be made if the driver did not meet the requirements in law to remain at the scene of the accident until he or she gave all necessary information and rendered assistance or, if no police officer is present, immediately reporting the accident to law enforcement and after rendering assistance.” Of course, a driver may request a review of the DMV’s determination.

House Bill 17-1283, signed by the Governor on May 22nd, creates a task force to “identify and develop models for a program to promote child welfare caseworker resiliency,” and to base its work and findings on national models for such programs. A report on its findings is due to the Joint Budget Committee and the Joint Health and Human Services Committee by December 31, 2017.

Described in the legislative declaration of HB 1283 are the various circumstances child welfare caseworkers work under, such as a high degree of uncertainty and they have the responsibility for life and death decisions concerning children and families.

The legislative declaration further states, “The work environment for child welfare caseworkers can be physically and emotionally dangerous. Caseworkers enter the homes of involuntary clients and are expected to conduct a thorough safety assessment of both the patients and children.”

House Bill 17-1330, signed by the Governor on June 6th, clarifies the law on a prohibition in current Colorado law that states, “a conviction for escape or attempted escape may not be used to adjudicate an offender as an habitual criminal unless the conviction is based on the offender’s escape or attempted escape from a correctional facility.”

“This prohibition applied to current and prior convictions for escape or attempted escape and that the definition of a correctional facility does not include a community corrections facility.”

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.