Hospital association files suit against state health department

The Colorado Hospital Association, along with seven hospitals, has filed a lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The suit contends that the public health department “seriously harmed hospitals’ procedural rights by failing to follow appropriate measures” when drafting new licensing regulations for hospitals and health facilities. The association is seeking to overturn the new regulations.

CHA also said the public health department is acting beyond its authority, “given that the amendments create onerous requirements that have no tangible benefits to patient safety.”

CHA is contesting regulations that apply to building structures at hospitals’ off-campus ambulatory surgical centers. The suit claims the new requirements would have “harsh economic consequences,” if enforced.

“Contrary to estabilished practices upon which many Colorado hopsitals have long relied, the noted portions of the proposed amendments would have a materially negative economic impact upon the current and future delivery of ambulatory care by many hospitals and health systems at their off-campus locations,” the suit said.

The lawsuit said the public health department should have performed a cost benefit analysis, as required under state statute.

Centura Health Corporation, parent company to Colorado Springs Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, is one of the plaintiffs in the suit. Other plaintiffs named are HCA-HealthONE, The Children’s Hospital Association, Valley Citizen’s Foundation for Health Care, Rio Grande Hospital, Yuma District Hospital, Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center and University of Colorado Hospital.

CHA is working with the state health department to reach a solution, but contends the lawsuit was necessary to preserve the legal rights of association members. The deadline to challenge the new regulations is May 31.

“CHA is committed to continuing discussions with CDPHE in hopes of resolving this issue within the next month,” said President and CEO Steven Summer. “I am cautiously hopeful that negotiations with the department will resolve many of CHA’s concerns …”

The new rules took affect May 1, the health department agreed to postpone enforcement of the most problematic provisions for 90 days.

The Colorado Department of Health is on furlough today, and unavailable for comment.