DENVER (CBS4) – A dozen hospitals in rural Colorado could close if state lawmakers don’t reach a deal on a sweeping bill by next week.
“The consequences of not passing that bill are … severe,” said Steven Summer, head of the Colorado Hospital Association.
“We’ll see hospitals close. Access to care will be impeded. People will have to drive longer (to get care).”
Summer says lives are at stake. If medical facilities like Lincoln Community Hospital in Hugo close it would leave more than half of Colorado’s counties with no hospital.
“In trauma, timely care is often referred to as the golden hour. We are in the golden hour of this bill,” Summer said.
The bill, which would also impact transportation and education, includes:
– $530 billion in Medicaid reimbursement for hospitals
– $2 billion for transportation
– $30 million for rural schools
– Tax credits for small businesses and seniors
Democratic and Republican lawmakers wrote out the terms of the deal on a piece of paper last week.
But Democrats say Republicans later inserted higher copays for medicaid patients, causing the deal to collapse.
“I just truly don’t even know enough to know if we can find common ground. It is that new of an issue and that much of a surprise for me,” said Rep. KC Becker, who represents Boulder.
“I’m still hopeful that we can work out those fine details and that the whole thing doesn’t fall apart,” said Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican who represents Sterling.
“It’s all part of the science of the politic — How are we going to get what we want? — and we’re going to get there for the people of Colorado,” said Sen. Lucia Guzman, a Democrat who represents Denver.
To pay for the increased spending in the bill, lawmakers would raise taxes on recreational marijuana to the maximum 15 percent, sell some state buildings and require all state agencies to cut their budgets by 2 percent.
The bill was set to be heard in committee on Tuesday, but that hearing was postponed. The legislative session ends in seven days.