Top GOP Pollster: Colorado Voters Broadly Support Legislation Placing Hospital Provider Fee in Enterprise Fund

Top GOP Pollster: Colorado Voters Broadly Support Legislation Placing Hospital Provider Fee in Enterprise Fund

Republicans and rural voters back legislative fix of Hospital Provider Fee

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO. – April 3, 2017 – A survey by one of the nation’s top Republican pollsters found broad support across Colorado, including among likely Republican voters, for legislation that would place the Hospital Provider Fee (HPF) in an enterprise fund, thereby exempting the legislation from TABOR spending limits. The poll was conducted by Dave Sackett of the Tarrance Group, one of the most respected Republican polling firms in the country.

The poll asked respondents:

“The state legislature is considering a law that would put the hospital provider fee revenue into a separate fund, and not count it as general fund revenue, so it doesn’t apply to the TABOR spending limit. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said the designation is permitted under TABOR. This designation will bring state revenues under the TABOR spending limit, eliminate TABOR rebates, and allow the state to invest in K through 12 education and road and bridge maintenance and repair.”

By a 64 percent to 28 percent margin, voters in Colorado said they believe the legislature should enact a HPF enterprise law. By a 51 percent to 39 percent margin, likely Republican voters support placing HPF in a separate fund outside of TABOR spending limits.

The survey, conducted Feb. 25-28, shows that voters remain generally supportive of TABOR, with support sitting approximately two to one among all voters and slightly better among Independents, who support the constitutional measure at 45 percent to only 22 percent that oppose it.

The survey took a deeper dive into the opinion of likely Republican voters on the topic. The survey over-sampled Republican voters in the conservative strongholds of Congressional Districts 3 (Western Slope), 4 (eastern plains, Weld and Douglas counties) and 5 (El Paso and Fremont counties) to gain a clearer, more statistically accurate view of Republican attitudes there.

Republican voters were provided the arguments for and against HPF legislation and were asked to pick sides.

Opponents, including TABOR author Doug Bruce and Independence Institute President Jon Caldara, say that the proposal to move the HPF to a separate fund is a TABOR dodge and stalking horse to promote more government spending. They believe the legislature should either partially or fully eliminate the HPF or find major reductions to other programs.

Others, including rural Republican State Senator Larry Crowder and Republican Mayor of Colorado Springs John Suthers, say TABOR specifically permits the proposed law that would place the HPF in a separate fund. Many of the most respected leaders across rural Colorado say the legislature has an obligation to fix the unintended consequences of the HPF in order to spare deep cuts to rural hospitals, rural road and bridge repair programs and rural K-12 schools.

By a margin of 51 percent to 37 percent, likely Republican voters said they support the view that “the legislature has an obligation to fix the unintended consequences of the Hospital Provider Fee.” The argument that the legislature has an “obligation to act” prevailed by 46 percent to 39 percent among Republicans in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, 53 percent to 38 percent among Republicans in the 4th Congressional District, and 54 percent to 32 percent among Republicans in the El Paso County-heavy 5th Congressional District.

The poll found that Governor John Hickenlooper had an approval rating of 60 percent, with 31 percent of voters disapproving. President Donald Trump had a favorable rating of 41 percent, with 51 percent disapproving of his job performance.

“The Attorney General has made it explicitly clear that placing HPF in a separate fund is entirely consistent with the state’s taxpayer bill of rights, so it isn’t a surprise that Republican voters across the state broadly support enterprise legislation,” said Trampas Hutches, CEO, Melissa Memorial Hospital in Holyoke. “We think the poll sends an exceptionally clear message – Republican voters in the most conservative regions of the state want their legislators to fix the unintended consequences of the original HPF law. Doing nothing would be tantamount to the legislature turning its back on rural Colorado.”

“Moving the HPF to a separate fund is a legislative step that will protect hospitals from losing nearly half a billion dollars in funding this year,” said Steven Summer, president and CEO, Colorado Hospital Association. “Especially in rural Colorado, hospitals serve as the lifeblood of their communities, and a cut of that magnitude would be devastating. We urge legislators to support Senate Bill 17-267, which will address this issue and protect Colorado’s rural hospitals and communities.”

About the Colorado Hospital Association

The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) is the leading voice of Colorado’s hospital and health system community. Representing more than 100 member hospitals and health systems throughout the state, CHA serves as a trusted, credible and reliable resource on health issues, hospital data and trends for its members, media, policymakers and the general public. Through CHA, Colorado’s hospitals and health systems work together in their shared commitment to improve health and health care in Colorado.

About the Tarrance Group

The Tarrance Group is one of the pre-eminent Republican polling firms in the country, with clients ranging from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to Colorado’s U.S. Senator Cory Gardner and Congressman Mike Coffman.

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