Coronavirus complicated efforts to lower Colorado’s health care prices. But one idea is still moving forward.
Back in February — six months and untold mental eons ago — the biggest issue in health care in Colorado was lowering its price.
Hospitals were raking in record profits, state lawmakers were champing at the bit to do something about it and ambitious plans to rewrite chunks of the health care playbook dominated the legislature’s early days.
Like with many best-laid plans, the coronavirus pandemic has largely upended those efforts — most of the proposals met quiet ends at the Capitol and hospitals’ profits have turned into what they claim will be multibillion-dollar losses this year. But supporters of an innovative new model for negotiating prices with hospitals continue to push forward and say they have been making important gains in recent months — advances they say might have been even larger if not for the pandemic.
“It’s a heavy lift,” said Robert Smith, the executive director of the Colorado Business Group on Health. “We’ve absolutely been slowed down by the COVID crisis.”
Smith has been working to set up a so-called health care purchasing alliance, a group that brings employers and individuals together — basically, the purchasers of health care services — and uses their collective leverage to negotiate better deals from both health care providers and insurance companies.
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