Heart of the Matter with Americhicks, Laura Woods, January 28, 2016

Station: KLZ, 560 AM

Show:     Heart of the Matter with Americhicks

Guests:  Woods

Link:      https://soundcloud.com/the-heart-of-the-matter

Date:      January 28, 2016


Click Here for Audio


HOST KIM MUNSON:  Laura Woods will be calling in here in just a few moments.  And one of the things that is a really big battle out there right now is what’s –it’s the Hospital Provider Fee.  And this was a fee that was instituted that hospitals would charge, to my understanding, on patient beds.  One of the things that is of great concern to me is the fact that this particular fee would not show up on a bill.  And so, that is, uh, hidden.  And, first and foremost, whenever a fee or a tax is put in place that somebody has to pay, but in fact they don’t even know about it, it seems a bit disingenuous to me. So, what say you, [producer of the show] Terrence?

SHOW PRODUCER, TERRANCE: Yeah you should tell someone about all the fees and charges that they may occur [sic] during a visit to the hospital in one whop, before you start charging them additional hidden fees. There shouldn’t be hidden fees in that process.

MUNSON:  I totally agree. Well said, well said. So with that, this fee actually has become – has generated, really, quite a bit of money.  And so, my understanding is that down at the legislature, and also Governor Hickenlooper, they want to do a redefinition of what that fee is by, again, my understanding is that a fee has to go back to improve help out the entity that actually charged that.  But what my understanding is, is they want to change the definition of this so that they can put it into what’s called an Enterprise Fund.   And then that Enterprise Fund would be moved away from the calculations of what the state has to do regarding the TABOR limit.  So it takes that money and moves that from that particular compilation on that.  And that seems a little, again, disingenuous to me.  Terrance?

TERRANCE:  [voices his suspicion that the bill is a means to circumvent TABOR]

MUNSON:  Well, it does look like it might be an end run on that.  So I think that we have Sen. Laura Woods on the line here. Laura, are you there?


MUNSON:  How are you?  Is it a little busy down at the capitol?

WOODS: It is busy.  We just finished a school choice rally at the Capitol and, you know, it’s one thing after another down here.  It’s always busy, but it’s fun.

MUNSON:  Well, that’s for sure.  […] First and foremost, I was trying to lay the framework, as I understand it, regarding the hospital provider fee, which from my understanding is that is going to be a pretty big battle down there the capital.  So, where are we at on that?

WOODS:  Well, and you laid the framework very well – I was listening in.  And we are going to be discussing the hospital provider fee a lot. I think one of the concerns that we all share is the legal opinion we got from legislative legal services.  They are nonpartisan staff of lawyers at work in the capitol.  They were asked for legal opinion last spring, early summer. And they said then that to move this money out of the hospital provider fee over to an enterprise fund and then keep it outside of the TABOR calculation is unconstitutional.  And the Republican weren’t made privy to that legal opinion until – I don’t know.  It had to have been January, I think, when that came to light.  The governor knew. The Democrats knew. And they just didn’t tell the Republicans. So we really — it has cut the conversation short, right?  We know this is a bed tax.  We know it’s matched by federal dollars. We know there’s a huge amount of money in this pot.  We know that the bed tax was going from $150 per bed to $300 per bed sometime – and it may have already made that jump.  We know that nobody is told about this bill. It doesn’t show up on the hospital bill but their insurance companies have to pay it.  And in all of that is relevant and it matters, but not in this discussion. The bottom line is, it is an unconstitutional thing the governor has asked the legislature to do, and when we took office we swore an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution and we cannot –in good conscience, and in keeping of our oath — move this money to an enterprise fund for him.

MUNSON:  And, you know, Laura, I appreciate — I mean, certainly you are right.  You have taken an oath to uphold first, the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of Colorado, of course.  But, you know what?  One of the things that Molly and I try to do it is to look at issues as right versus wrong, instead of right versus left.  And there’s two things that are just jumping out at me.  Well, actually, maybe three things.   The first thing is that this is unconstitutional.

WOODS:  Yeah.

MUNSON:  The second thing is the lack of transparency–that in fact the governor and some on one side of the aisle knew about this particular legal opinion but yet did not share that with everyone.  And I think that citizens expect that there be that transparency, the networking across the aisle.  And then lastly, it is disingenuous to charge this hospital provider fee, and the idea that it’s going from hundred and $50 to 300 — that’s pretty significant when in fact healthcare costs are going up so significantly.  So there’s three things that just really, — as a citizen — just really raise my antenna on this.

WOODS:  Yes. Yeah, and you’re right, citizens should not only expect this kind of transparency, but they should demand it!  They really should.

MUNSON:  And you know, Laura, as Molly and I are out and about, we meet with a lot of women in speaking and I am finding that women are really becoming very concerned about that.  […] And as I’m talking to women they’re concerned about that.  And so I’m very encouraged that people are starting to be very engaged in starting to pay attention.  And of course, they want to look for trusted sources and so that’s why Molly and I are trying to look at these issues as right versus wrong instead of right versus left.  So, on that, though–

WOODS:  That’s excellent.

MUNSON:  Well, thank you!

WOODS:  That’s excellent.  Really, women are proving that that every issue is a woman’s issue. You know?  We really are deep thinkers and care.  We’re passionate. We care about all policy, you know?  It’s not just our bodies we care about.  So–.

MUNSON:  […]  Well, that’s for sure.  And actually, when we were at the Steamboat Institute, I got to talk to Mary Kissel who – and interview her, which– that is on our website, that particular interview, or will be shortly.  And she is on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. And so I asked her, you know, what it meant to be at this pinnacle of her profession, being a woman. And she basically said that –I’m paraphrasing –that that her body parts doesn’t determine the kind of job that she’s done, that she, you know, she got that job on merit.  And so I think that that’s pretty important.  So –but I know we only have a few minutes. I appreciate you taking the time because you’ve got a big afternoon.  So, what’s on your radar?  What’s keeping you up at night? What would you like to talk about?

WOODS:  I think, you know, this hospital provider fee is one of the things that were waiting to see if –well, you know, if everyone will hold firm, hold to the line or not, or if it’s going to be dealt with. So, that’s one of the issues. Transportation is an issue that, — you know we have to focus on transportation because our road are in such bad shape.  The budget in general is another topic we talk about down here daily.  And really, it’s a prioritizing of the dollars that the state brings in.  Do we want to spend them on the needs of the many or the wants of a few?  You know?  And that’s really the choices were faced with every dollar that comes into the general fund that we have authority to spend.  So –.

MUNSON:  Mm-hmm.  And Laura –.

WOODS:  And, shrinking Medicaid would be great, you know.  I mean, we’ve just got some tough choices to make.

MUNSON:  Well, and I know that we really do.  Transportation is something that’s somewhat near and dear to my heart.  As you may know, I’m on city Council for my little community and I have had a front row seat to this whole transportation conversation. And there’s always – you know, I’m hearing bureaucrats and politicians out there saying we need more money for our roads and our bridges.  And I will tell you, as I drive around in Denver, I know that quite frankly the roads have been neglected.  But what I have learned is that anywhere from 25% to 30% of the Highway User Tax fund money that comes back to us is being shaved off for other things, such as trains, and the pedestrian bridges and paths, and bike paths.  And I love all that. However, again, I think it’s a bit disingenuous to take money that is supposed to be used for X and shaving it off to something else, and then start to whine about not enough money for X.

WOODS:  You’re exactly right. And that problem is attempting to be fixed with a bill that Senators Neville and Marble are running in the Senate, and it will be on second reading tomorrow.  And it says, –you know, the HUTF each were supposed to be used for roads and bridges and highway safety concerns.  So, it might be a guardrail on a corner or something like that. But instead, it has been robbed and used for gondola cars to the top of Telluride mountain, because that is transporation,  bikes in the downtown Denver area, and bike lanes — things that do not qualify as safety concern on roads and bridges.  And so, the attempt with this bill is to eliminate the possibility to rob that fund and use it for something other than what it was intended to be used for.  And – this is a absolute necessity for Colorado because we have robbed the money out of the transportation fund for years, and you know, my predecessors in the legislature, some of whom have been termed out, stand up and say the Democrats stole the transportation money!  And now they want it to come out of the hospital provider fee and backfill that transportation fund. And you know, they’re sort of reaping what they have sown over the years.

MUNSON:  So, let me just summarize, I think, at least, the way I see that. So, in essence, we want to charge more people that are in the hospital –people that are vulnerable and sick and trying to feel better.  We’re going to charge them and then were in essence we’re going to take that money and come over and backfill money that we’ve spent on things that were promised to something else. And that’s the way were supposed to make our to build a better Colorado, huh?

WOODS:  Yeah.  That’s exactly it.  And they have promised that hospital provider fee to so many people.  Education is wanting a handout.  Transportation is wanting a handout. Everybody that’s looking at budget cuts is thinking, “Well, let’s get it out of the hospital provider fee and the governor will give it to us.”  And he promised that money to a lot of people.  So, you know, that’s another problem with the whole enterprise fund in my opinion.

MUNSON:  Okay.  Well, Laura, these are really important issues and it makes a big difference.  We had to as Star Parker on a few I guess it was last year and we were talking about all of this spending this government spending and actually I think government –all in — should be about 20%.  And then from there people should be able to keep most you don’t keep the balance of that for their lives and I think that we would actually grow the economy and faxed tax revenues would go up if we if we did that.  But that’s–.

WOODS:  Well, John F. Kennedy – he was a Democrat.  And he knew that in a recession you cut taxes.  You put that money back into the economy. You get people working and spending again and that’s what benefits the economy.  So, this isn’t a Republican idea.  It’s a conservative idea.

MUNSON:  Well, definitely.  And if you make the pie bigger and keep the percentage the same but the pie is bigger actually taxes go up and make a left up organically versus through force.  And when we try to force by by taking more from the productive people in society in essence it starts to contract the society.  And you know, I think we’re at 2% GDP growth which is pretty lackluster and so it’s not a real recovery.  So, now,  Laura, I know that you’re scrambling this afternoon.  Is there anything else that you would like to share with people this afternoon?

WOODS:  I just would like your audience to be aware of amendment 69. I should come back and let’s do a show on amendment 69.  This is the single-payer health system that has found its way onto the ballot next November. It will be yet another tax on all income that Colorado citizens earn — all income that Colorado citizens earn–10% more, and it’s going to hit low to middle income families the hardest. It is to be the biggest train wreck our state has ever faced if the voters don’t understand what they’re voting for — the single-payer health system. So that’s one thing we’re educating a lot on and want to continue the conversation right up to November because it’s critically important.

MUNSON:  [I] totally agree.  It’s basically socialized healthcare –

WOODS:  Absolutely.

MUNSON:  –and in essence, everybody gets the same care it’s just pretty crummy and is pretty expensive. So, um–.

WOODS:  And not everybody pays.

MUNSON:  Yeah, not every—of course, the other thing is, is the elites –the guys that are making the decisions on that — they typically aren’t part of that.  So, but Laura, thank you so much. I so appreciate what you’re doing.   If people want to get more information about you, what is your website?

WOODS:  SenatorLauraWoods.com