Senate delays vote on health kickbacks OKs discounted drugs
DENVER – The Senate on Monday delayed a vote on a proposal that would bar health insurers from paying doctors to switch patients’ drugs, a practice critics call a form of kickbacks.The Senate initially rejected the bill (Senate Bill 1411) because of fears it could also stop insurance companies from taking other steps to save money and make health care more expensive. Later, opponents succeeded in sending it to the appropriations committee because of changes made to the bill last week. The move slows the bill down as lawmakers rush to finish the session by the end of Wednesday.The bill bans health insurers from offering incentives for denying, reducing or delaying care and is aimed at stopping insurers from getting doctors to switch patient drugs or medical devices to save money.It’s backed by drug maker Pfizer and patient advocate groups but opposed by insurers including AARP and Kaiser Permanente. Despite changes made to the bill, they’re concerned it could still stop health insurers from paying doctors to try long-term treatments that may be less expensive but also less dangerous than other procedures like surgery.”We shouldn’t be seduced by a headline ‘Fight Kickbacks’,” Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, said.Sponsor Sen. Paula Sandoval, D-Denver, said there have been reports of such payments and settlements in other states and passing the measure would protect against it happening in Colorado.The Senate also voted 24-11 to give final approval to another measure (Senate Bill 246) that would allow retailers to sell a wide range of discounted prescription drugs. The bill, which heads to the House for a hearing, would change the state’s anti-monopoly law to say that overhead costs no longer have to be considered in calculating whether a retailer is selling below cost.Rural lawmakers from both parties opposed it, fearing it could also be used to help large retailers edge out smaller stores in other areas besides drug sales.
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