XRay Fee Increase, Medical Sunset Act Considered

February 25, 2010

Today the House Health and Human Services (HHS) committee considered two bills with potential impacts on dentistry:

  • HB10-1149 X-ray bill
    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is seeking changes to its Radiation Control Act which have the potential to increase registration fees and penalties for non-compliance for healthcare professionals.
  • HB10-1260 Medical Sunset Act
    HB 1260 separates medical and dental malpractice coverage requirements, with no current increase to dental coverage requirements. Medical peer review committees will sunset in 2012, but the dental peer review process appears to be unaffected at this time. HB 1260 can provide some insight into proposals that dentistry might face in its next sunset review in 2014.

Initially, the CDA had substantial concerns with HB 1149 – the x-ray bill. Section 6 of that bill raises administrative penalties significantly. Whereas the penalties are currently capped at $5,000 total, the bill would increase the penalties to $15,000 per violation per day. Penalties are typically designed to incentivize compliance, and not, in most cases, to devastate a business. There was concern among dentists that a few days of the penalty allowed under this bill could put a private practice healthcare provider out of business.

We met with CDPHE last week, in advance of the committee vote, to discuss these concerns. They explained their rationale for the increase, which – in our understanding – is not focused on private practice healthcare. They assured us that the fee change is intended to provide the flexibility needed to adequately address industrial uses of radiation.

The department also shared their current rules and parameters regarding penalties. Under current practice, CDPHE does not impose the maximum penalty in each case. They have established severity ratings that provide a framework for determining the penalty amounts for violations.

CDPHE worked with the CDA on an amendment, whereby they would engage in a public rulemaking process to establish rules for the new penalties authorized under this bill. Rulemaking will allow for additional stakeholder involvement and input in establishing fair penalties for the private practice healthcare community. This amendment, which was adopted by the committee, will help assure a reasonable approach with the penalties allowed under this bill.

The House HHS committee voted in favor of both bills, referring both to the committee on Appropriations for further action.