Hospital Provider Fee lawsuit

Issue:

 Whether the State of Colorado can circumvent the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) by levying a tax on hospitals without voter approval?

Plaintiff:

 TABOR Foundation, a Colorado nonprofit, public-interest foundation dedicated to protecting and enforcing TABOR, which requires a vote of the people before Colorado may create new debt, levy new taxes, increase tax rates, or institute tax policy changes directly causing a net tax revenue gain

 Defendants:

 Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing; Susan E. Birch, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing; Colorado Department of the Treasury; Walker Stapleton, Colorado State Treasurer

Court:

Colorado District Court for Denver County

TABOR Committee members and TABOR friends,

The final of three lawsuit developments:

Last Friday, the TABOR Foundation filed a new lawsuit.  The legal firm representing us is Mountain States Legal Foundation.

The legislature responded in 2009 to an incentive offered by the federal government.  The Medicaid program prompted states to impose a new tax (the word the Medicaid program uses).  Revenues received would be matched and the funds made available to pay (some) hospitals for care of indigent people who otherwise would leave the hospitals uncompensated.  As the legislation was moving forward, a memo was generated at the Capitol warning legislators that if the charges were used ONLY for the hospital match, they could qualify as a fee (I would dispute that, but that’s not the issue at hand).  Legislators were warned that if the revenues were used instead for general fund purposes, the charge would definitely be a tax and subject to a TABOR vote.

In three different fiscal years, the legislature diverted some portion of those funds for general appropriations.  Yet, no TABOR prior voter approval was ever obtained, in violation of the TABOR provision in the Colorado Constitution.

The TABOR Committee last fall asked the Hickenlooper administration to address the breach and to negotiate a solution in good faith.  The first meeting was put off until well after the legislative session started, and promises to raise the issue within the Governor’s Council and communicate back were not fulfilled.  Rather, Governor Hickenlooper went public with a scheme to move the whole thing off budget, as if the tax was handled by a government business!

Penn R. Pfiffner

Chairman, TABOR Committee

 

Hospital Provider Tax complaint

Leg Legal Serv Memo_esp Page 6_smoking Gun

TABOR Foundation v. Colorado Department of Health Care Policy And Financing

Issue:

Whether the State of Colorado can circumvent the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) by levying a tax on hospitals without voter approval?

Plaintiff:

 TABOR Foundation, a Colorado nonprofit, public-interest foundation dedicated to protecting and enforcing TABOR, which requires a vote of the people before Colorado may create new debt, levy new taxes, increase tax rates, or institute tax policy changes directly causing a net tax revenue gain

Defendants:

 Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing; Susan E. Birch, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing; Colorado Department of the Treasury; Walker Stapleton, Colorado State Treasurer

 Court:

Colorado District Court for Denver County

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