Commission Issues Third Report on Addressing Health Care Costs

June 30, 2017

Commission Issues Third Report on Addressing Health Care Costs

Report’s Recommendations Include Addressing Free-Standing Emergency Rooms, Curbing Opportunistic Drug Pricing

DENVER — The Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care issued its third report to state policymakers today. The report details recommendations to address rising health care costs, including studying the effect free-standing emergency rooms have on health costs, studying provider utilization rates in rural Colorado, substance use disorders, confronting aggressive and opportunistic drug pricing.


“Addressing the rising cost of health care is a complex matter, but the Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care has made tremendous progress identifying key steps the state can take to confront this monumental challenge,” said Bill Lindsay, the Commission’s chairman. “This third report is the result of years of work — but more needs to be done. In addition to its recommendations, the Commission also has highlighted a series of area for further study. Colorado’s elected leaders should build on these recommendations and continue to strive to confront the primary drivers of rising health care costs.”


The Commission’s recommendations include:

  • Given the close link between education and health, Colorado should provide children on Medicaid with access to quality preschool.

  • Offering comprehensive substance use disorder treatment that includes a range of services, such as detox, intensive out-patient treatment, residential treatment, and medication-assisted treatment.

  • Training physicians, as part of their course curriculum, on how to effectively present to patients and their families their options regarding end-of-life care.

  • Develop licensing standards for free-standing emergency rooms that are the same as the equivalent level of the federal government’s “Conditions of Participation” and other regulatory guidance for hospital-based facilities.


The Commission also urged the state to study several issues that affect health care cost for consumers, businesses, and public agencies, including the effects of:

  • Opportunistic pricing behaviors by pharmaceutical companies for drugs that are under patent or where market shortages exist.

  • Increasing reimbursement for inpatient behavioral health services to help incentivize the creation of more beds.


The Commission, created through Senate Bill 14-187 and comprised of health care experts, regional representatives, and other stakeholders, previously issued reports to lawmakers and Governor’s Office in 2015 and 2016.