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Southwest Health System Supports Colorado Senate Bill to Preserve Hospital Funding

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Cortez-based health provider Southwest Health System is supporting a bipartisan bill introduced Monday in the Colorado State Senate that would avoid proposed funding cuts to hospitals in the state.

Senate Bill 267 would allow the state to manage hospital funding through an enterprise fund instead of through the state’s general fund. Doing so would sidestep the general fund’s limits on state spending imposed by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR.


Southwest Health System spokesperson Haley Leonard tells KSJD passage of the bill would allow them to continue normal operation. If the bill doesn’t pass, she said Southwest Health System could lose about $2 million from proposed state budget cuts, which could force the company to drop critical personnel, services, and technology.


The Senate bill comes in response to a proposed state budget that would deeply cutfunding to hospitals to meet the state spending restrictions imposed by TABOR. The bill would also cut other state executive departments by 2 percent and restructurefunding to schools and roads by using some state assets as collateral.


The bill faces an uncertain future in the state legislature. Democrats may oppose cuts to the executive departments, and Republicans have opposed hospital funding restructures in the past. SB 267 will now move to committee, where lawmakers will make changes before its final hearing. The Senate Finance Committee will vote on the measure a week from Tuesday.


Note: this story has been updated to correct the scheduled senate vote and clarify the state budget cuts' potential impacts to Southwest Health System.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.
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