Gov. Bill Ritter today signed into law 10 health care and non-profit measures, including bills to help families cope with the high costs of caring for children with autism and to improve care in Colorado’s rural communities.
“Health care reform is a central part of the Colorado Promise and my strategy for leading Colorado forward,” Gov. Ritter said. “Over the last 2½ years, we’ve increased availability, improved quality and addressed costs. The bills I am signing today will help continue our efforts to build a strong, sustainable health care system for Colorado.”
Senate Bill 244, sponsored by Senate President Brandon Shaffer and Rep. Dianne Primavera, requires health insurance providers to cover the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders for children so they can live safe, productive, and healthy lives.
“Thanks to this bill, families across Colorado will finally get the help and support they deserve,” Senate President Shaffer said. “Thanks to 244, no child is forgotten, no family is fighting for their basic right to health care and no legislator forgets their job: to continue to provide support to the thousands of families across Colorado.”
“Autism affects thousands of Coloradans,” Rep. Primavera said. “But if we diagnose it early and treat it properly, we can make real gains, we can make sure our kids grow up happy and healthy. Early treatment works, period. And now, thanks to this legislation, thousands of families who could not otherwise afford care for their kids have access to the most cutting-edge treatments available.”
SB 133, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Spence and Rep. Primavera, increases funding for the Traumatic Brain Injury program, and is expected to help an additional 250 Coloradans.
House Bill 1043, sponsored by Rep. Su Ryden and Sen. Suzanne Williams, gives Coloradans a chance to donate to the Make-a-Wish Foundation by adding an income tax check off on the Colorado income tax form.
“This tax check-off will make it possible for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Colorado to continue granting wishes for seriously ill children and their families,” said Rep. Ryden. “As donations from other sources have shrunk in these troubled economic times, this will be invaluable in filling the gap.”
HB 1047, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Todd and Sen. Williams, creates a program in Medicaid for spinal cord injury patients to receive alternative therapies.
“We know that sometimes the most effective remedies can be the cheapest,” Rep. Todd said. “If those with spinal cord injuries can increase their mobility or decrease their pain through chiropractors, massage or even acupuncture, they should be allowed access to those alternatives.”
HB 1111, sponsored by Rep. Tom Massey and Sens. Betty Boyd and Gail Schwartz, will ensure Colorado has the resources needed to maximize federal dollars for medically underserved communities in Colorado. It also will strengthen loan forgiveness programs so that these communities can better recruit and retain health care professionals.
“This bill will significantly help provide doctors and health care resources in under-served areas to ensure that every citizen in Colorado is getting the quality health care he or she deserves,” Sen. Boyd said.
“I want to let the people in my district know that just because you aren’t living on the Front Range doesn’t mean that your voices aren’t being heard at the Capitol,” Sen. Schwartz said. “This session we passed several innovative bills to support people living in rural parts of the state. This new legislation will help to revive rural Colorado by strengthening local economies, encouraging innovation, and improving access to health care.”
HB 1119, sponsored by Rep. Ed Vigil and Sen. Schwartz, helps prevent alcohol and substance abuse in Colorado’s rural communities through a new grant program.
“I firmly believe that everyone in Colorado should receive quality services and care regardless of where they live,” Sen. Schwartz said. “This bill will keep Colorado healthy and I’m proud to see it become law.”
HB 1252, sponsored by Rep. Ellen Roberts and Sen. Jim Isgar, will allow business owners and health care providers in the San Luis Valley to partner to provide access to primary care services for working families.
HB 1281, sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Labuda and Sens. Morgan Carroll and Linda Newell, provides for representation from the disability community on all boards that impact people with disabilities.
SB 138, sponsored by Sen. Boyd and Rep. Sara Gagliardi, continues the regulation of certified nurse aides for another 11 years, and makes important changes to the program.
SB 239, sponsored by Sen. Lois Tochtrop and Rep. Jim Riesberg, reauthorizes the State Board of Nursing and modernizes the Nurse Practice Act to ensure the highest standards of patient safety while maximizing access to care.
Friday is the final day for Gov. Ritter to take action on bills from the 2009 legislative session. Click here or visit www.colorado.gov/governor for a complete list of 2009 bills signed into law.