Colorado Submits State Importation Plan

Saving people money on health care is a top priority for the Polis administration Plan Aims to Reduce the Cost of Prescription Drugs


March 9, 2020

Media Contact
Marc Williams

Denver, CO – Today, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (Department) submitted formal comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) draft Canadian Importation rule. The Department’s comments were provided in two forms – a formal comment letter as well as within a draft Section 804 Importation Program (SIP). The Department will hold a stakeholder meeting to review the draft SIP and the formal comments on March 19. 

Colorado is well-positioned to save people money by safely importing prescription drugs from Canada because in 2019, Governor Jared Polis signed a bipartisan bill into law which directed the state to seek permission from the federal government to establish an importation program. Saving people money on health care is a top priority for the Polis administration.  

“We pay much more than anyone else in the world for the exact same prescription drugs. People shouldn’t be forced to choose between life-saving drugs and rent or a mortgage. The price of prescription drugs has far outpaced salaries and wages, which not only puts pressure on families but holds back our economy,” said Colorado Governor Polis. “With this importation plan, Colorado is leading the way by taking a bold approach in our planning for the safe importation of prescription drugs from Canada, and we hope that it’s approved by Secretary Azar promptly.”

Colorado and other states have been at the forefront of developing proposals for importation.

“One in five Coloradans struggle to afford their prescription drugs, while nearly one in three Coloradans do not take their prescription drugs as directed because they cannot afford to,” said Kim Bimestefer, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. “Lowering the cost of prescription drugs through importation will directly and meaningfully improve access to prescription drug therapy, thereby improving the health and well-being of Coloradans. We have designed our program to ensure drug safety, to support the industry along the drug supply chain, and to deliver an average savings of over 60% on over 150 brand name drugs – when compared to U.S. drug prices.” 

SB 19-005, a bipartisan bill passed last year, directed the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to pursue purchasing prescription drugs from Canada. All imported drugs would have to follow strict federal guidance around safety and be: FDA-approved; sample tested for quality, authenticity, and degradation; tracked and traced according to federal supply chain law; and relabeled to meet U.S. labeling requirements. 

Colorado is one of four states that have passed legislation to pursue importation of prescription drugs from Canada; many other states are in the process of pursuing similar state legislation. 

To find out more information and view the full text of the SIP and accompanying comments visit our Drug Importation website

About the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing: The Department administers Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program), Child Health Plan Plus, and other programs for Coloradans who qualify. For more information about the Department, please visit