Legislators fight for rural hospitals

    With the biggest bill of the session on reclassifying the hospital provider fee up for its first Senate hearing this week, Rep. Jon Becker of Fort Morgan, one of the bill’s House sponsors, launched a preemptive strike to persuade fellow House members to find just a few million more dollars for vulnerable hospitals.
    Becker persuaded majority Democrats during the House’s debate on the 2017-18 budget to support a budget amendment to direct the state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which administers the provider fee program, to cut its administrative costs. That would free up $8 million dollars, under Becker’s amendment, and coupled with a federal match would provide about $16 million for rural hospitals.
    Becker’s amendment was one of the few highlights for House Republicans last week, who are at the lesser end of a 37-28 Democratic majority. He was the most successful among Republicans on amendments, also persuading the Democrats to support an amendment taking $9.5 million from a telecommunications service charge fund and putting it into broadband services for rural communities.

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