Hickenlooper: Health Insurance Cuts Possible Without Budget Change

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Photo: Hickenlooper On CM Jul 20 2015
Gov. John Hickenlooper, photographed at his office on Monday, July 20, 2015, during a taping of Colorado Matters.

Lawmakers return to session this week and Gov. John Hickenlooper's priorities lie in the state budget. His annual State of the State speech comes Wednesday. Then on Saturday, he's getting married. He discussed all those things in his regular conversation with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner this week.

At the top of Hickenlooper's agenda for the 2016 session is a request to lawmakers to change how the state classifies a fee it collects from hospitals that provide care to Medicaid patients. Reclassifying the fee would allow the state to spend more of the tax revenue it collects in the next few years and to reduce refunds to voters as prescribed in the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.

The top Republican lawmaker, Senate President Bill Cadman, recently called the governor's proposal "a nonstarter" in a conversation with Colorado Matters.

Warner's interview with Hickenlooper also checked some of the governor's old promises from the start of the 2015 legislative session regarding oil and gas development; how to jumpstart rural Colorado economies; banking for the marijuana industry; and funding higher education. Hear the conversation by clicking "Listen" above.

Web extra: Checking the governor's 2015 promises on higher ed:


Hickenlooper: Convert Hospital Provider Fee to an enterprise fund:

"I was encouraged that President Cadman, to seek [advice from lawyers advising the legislature] was considering doing something around the hospital provider fee until he found out that he felt, or that legislative legal advisors felt it was against the Constitution. If we can resolve that, it sounds like he's ready to do a deal."

On possible consequences of not reclassifying the fee:

"If [Republican lawmakers] are successful in locking down government, one of the things that will be an unavoidable consequence is we will, you know, take a lot of people that have health insurance off of health insurance... That's a high probability. There's only so many places you can look [to cut spending and achieve a balanced budget]."

On his efforts to open the federal banking system to the marijuana industry:

"Over half the states in the nation now have some form of legalized marijuana. There ought to be some -- It seems to me the time has come for us states to band together and petition the federal government unified, to say, maybe a credit union, some controlled way that we can have banking for this industry... My individual efforts, and I've talked to the White House, Homeland Security, Department of Justice, we haven't gotten anywhere... I've talked to a couple of governors and we're going to meet in a couple of weeks in Washington, D.C., and that's one of the things I plan to put on the agenda."