Headlines – April 14, 2023

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Colorado Lawmakers Consider Bill To Reduce Medical Debt

A bill that would lower the interest rate on medical debt in Colorado has received final approval, and is on its way to Governor Jared Polis for his signature. Colorado lawmakers have approved a measure that would lower the interest rate on medical debt to a maximum 3 percent. The bill would also require more transparency in the costs of medical treatment, and disallow the collection of debt when patients are appealing a bill.

Medical debt is one of the main causes of personal bankruptcy in the United States, according to The Associated Press. If the bill becomes law, the 3 percent medical debt interest rate would give Colorado one of the lowest in the country. Opponents say a 3 percent limit could impact a hospital’s cash flow. 

A second Colorado bill would protect credit scores by keeping medical debt off of consumer reports. Supporters of this measure say that since medical debt is often unexpected, it isn’t a good indicator of someone’s credit worthiness.

Anschutz Tax Lawsuit Dismissed

A Denver judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Phil and Nancy Anschutz, who sought an $8 million tax refund.

Denver Court Judge J. Eric Elliff dismissed the case with prejudice, which means it cannot be refiled. Both the Anschutzes and Colorado Department of Revenue would also be required to cover both their attorneys’ fees.

The Anschutzes, the Colorado department of Revenue, and their motion, did not specify why the case has been dismissed. Lawyers tasked to review the case at the request of The Colorado Sun said that the case’s dismissal is likely due to an agreement made between the state and the Anschutzes.

The case was originally filed by the Anschutzes so they may receive a tax return based off the changed definition of federal taxable income in the Federal CARES Act. The CARES Act was filed in response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic as a relief package.

Biden Plan Would Offer Health Coverage To DACA Recipients 

The Biden administration will allow DACA recipients to enroll in Medicaid or private resources under the Affordable Care Act.

The White House announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will amend the definition of “lawful presence” for DACA recipients to be eligible for Medicaid and Affordable Care Act coverage. As of now, DACA recipients and undocumented people don’t have access to Medicaid or financial aid for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

There’s no timeline given yet as of when the policy will be implemented. According to Colorado Newsline, “potentially, it could take years and legal challenges could also delay implementation.” 

Senate Passes Public Safety Swatting Bill

The Colorado Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would make falsely reporting an active shooter situation, a practice known as “swatting,” a class 6 felony.

Republican Van Winkle sponsored Senate Bill 249 after seventeen Colorado schools were placed on lockdown in February, when a rash of false 911 calls threatened violence. He said that swatting cannot be viewed as a prank, and that the bill will hold people who make swatting calls accountable.

The bill also makes a false emergency call that results in a lockdown or shelter-in-place order a class 1 misdemeanor.

Firefighters Contain Badger Creek Blaze

A wildland fire in Park County that started Wednesday was sparked by a negligent homeowner on private property. According to a press release, the Park County Sheriff will be pressing charges against the homeowner, whose actions were in violation of the local fire ban.

Dry and windy weather conditions fanned the blaze, known as the Badger Creek Fire. It spread quickly to 41 acres, but was reportedly 100 percent contained as of Thursday when area residents remained under pre-evacuation orders.

K9 Dog’s Death Prompts Tougher Animal Cruelty Bill

The House Judiciary Committee will consider a bill next week that would increase penalties for aggravated cruelty to animals when the victim is a service animal, police dog or a police horse. Lawmakers drafted the bill after a 10-year old K-9 member of the Jefferson County’s Sheriff department was shot and killed while on duty, according to The Denver Gazette.

Graffit, a German Shepherd, died while helping Golden Police apprehend an alleged auto-theft suspect at the Colorado School of Mines campus on February 13.

House Bill 1286 would strengthen a first-time charge of aggravated cruelty to a class 5 felony when the animal, whether on duty or not, is tortured, mutilated, or killed. That means up to three years in state prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

Boulder Seeking Water Efficiency Plan Feedback

The City of Boulder is seeking community input on how to update its Water Efficiency Plan. The plan offers guidelines for implementing the city’s Water Conservation Program, which develops water conservation goals with special consideration to community values and Boulder’s supply system.

County residents can offer feedback through a questionnaire on beheardboulder.org. Participants will be entered into a raffle to win a $50 gift card.

 

 

 

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