Bill meant to prevent opioid abuse vetoed

By: - July 3, 2020 10:03 am

Oxycodone pain pills prescribed for a patient with chronic pain lie on display on March 23, 2016, in Norwich, Conn. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday vetoed a bill that contained measures to prevent opioid addiction and abuse of other substances. 

House Bill 20-1085 was introduced in early January, during the start of the 2020 General Assembly, and the Legislature passed it during its recent pared-down, COVID-abbrevitated session.

But Polis objected to the measure’s projected costs. It would have mandated that private health insurers provide certain coverage, and health insurance carriers estimated such a mandate would add $22-$38 million to premium costs, Polis said.

The bill’s main sponsors included three Democrats — Rep. Chris Kennedy, Rep. Leslie Herod and Sen. Faith Winter — and a Republican, Sen. Kevin Priola.

The governor noted in a veto letter that he had warned he would not approve of a bill with a mandate that did not also protect the state’s general fund from new costs, and he said HB-1085 did not meet this threshold. 

“Given our current fiscal situation, Colorado is sadly not in a position to absorb increased costs of private health insurance,” he wrote in the letter.

But Polis added, “I agree with the underlying premise of the legislation: we must do more to elevate alternative pain management treatments to reduce the use of opioids,” and he held out hope that a bill that accomplished that same goals but that met his stipulations could be developed for next year’s legislative session.

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