Hickenlooper dusts off veto pen, throws out two Democratic bills

Politics

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

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DENVER — After not vetoing a single bill passed during last year’s frenetic and decidedly progressive legislation session, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will throw out two bills on Friday that fellow Democrats sent to his desk.

Hickenlooper, who is seeking a second term in November, will veto two bills, including House Bill 1108, which would have limited the co-payments required by insurance companies for visits to physical therapists and naturopathic doctors.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, and Rep. Dianne Primavera, D-Westminster, and supported by the American Physical Therapists Association, would have prohibited a carrier from charging a covered person a co-payment for physical rehabilitation services that is more than the co-payment charged for a visit to a primary care physician.

The amount charged would also have been capped at no more than 20 percent of the amount the carrier pays to the provider for the office visit.

“Unfortunately, this legislation creates a market imbalance which may discourage use of providers outside the scope of this law and fuel anti-competitive practices,” Hickenlooper wrote in veto letter. “In addition, it puts unnecessary restrictions on cost sharing for services provided by physical therapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists, which limits insurers’ ability to appropriately manage costs and services within their health insurance products.”

Hickenlooper is also vetoing a second bill, Senate Bill 89, concerning Payment In Lieu of Taxes, because the measure limits the state’s authority.

That bill was sponsored by Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, and Reps. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, and Ed Vigil, D-Fort Garland.

Neither of the bills being vetoed is a major Democratic priority or something that drew a lot of attention outside — and inside — the Capitol building.

But, politically, analysts say the governor can use the vetoes as a way to demonstrate that he’s not the rubber-stamp for Democratic policies that Republicans claim he is.

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