Jerry Kopel


This week, pause here for a refreshing gulp of non-election regular legislative news.

Next time you look at that hospital bill, don't bother to be agitated by the $3 charge for one aspirin. Keep going. When you get to "copying one medical record page" $12 charge, that's the time for apoplexy.

During the last legislative session, Rep. Eric Prinzler (R) carried HB 1162 which would have allowed health care providers to charge "whatever they wanted" for copying patient records. Of course, the bill didn't give patients the right to pick "whoever they wanted" to copy their records.

The bill did die quite early, but now I wonder if it wasn't just a ploy. A number of months later in August, the cost WAS increased from $10 to $12 by the Colorado Board of Health, whether you ordered one page or ten pages. It's 25 cents for every additional page after ten.

There was opposition to the increase from David Diepenbrock of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Assn., Otto Zwanzig, as a consumer, Scott Utash of The Legal Center, and Marilyn Lang of Health Ethics Lobby For Patients. But Joan Larson, director of legal affairs for Smart Corporation, a company that does the copying and makes the profit prevailed, 6 to 1, with only Estevan Flores voting against the increase.

Was HB 1162 just a ploy? One board member, Marsha Osborn commented before the vote that "she thinks the legislature will NOT continue to turn down bills to deregulate, especially if this board is not responsive to industry's concern about the cost of providing this service..."

Members of the Joint Budget Committee should note that analysis provided by the board of health staff listed Dept. of Regulatory Agencies and the Dept. of Health Care Policy and Financing as two state agencies that will have to pay for these cost increases in the same manner as consumers.

Of course, if I'm a consumer and have to pay $12 for one copy, why not be a schmuck? Order nine more for the same price.

* * *

Attention legislators. The Colorado Bar Association (CBA) has plans for you in 1997. At the top of the list will be the Revised Uniform Partnership Act (RUPA) as well as revisions in the Colorado Nonprofit Corporation Act. And with his chief opponent, House Majority Leader Tim Foster (R) out of the way, CBA Business Section Chief Anthony Van Westrum will likely push corporation act changes thwarted by Foster that would have damaged those who held minority stock positions in corporations.

This will be followed in 1998 by revisions to the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act, plus revisions to other business entity laws.

Enough to make your head spin? Just remember, none of these revisions will help consumers of services or products from these entities. Revisions are designed to make life easier for business clients and serve as an incentive for clients to visit attorney offices and be billed for advice about the revisions.

On television science fiction, aliens invade the earth in dribbles and then finally take over. Legislators should be aware that the CBA is planning the ultimate, The Universal Business Entity Act, with work to begin this fall.

According to Business Entities subsection chairman Robert Keatinge "This entity would ultimately replace corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies with a contractually based organization that offers alternative arrangements with respect to governance, apparent authority, liability, financial arrangements and other matters, but conforms such matters as filings, name, merger and conversion, and possibly others such as duties."

And since we're discussing business bills, remember SB 91 of 1995 and SB 98 of 1996? Of course you don't, but both bills were sponsored by Sen. Schroeder (R) and Rep. Chlouber (R) creating a central indexing system to file security interests.

Well, gulp, seems like something did go wrong. The bills, which are now law, eliminated signatures on financing statements, amendments, releases and termination of financing statements.

According to the CBA Business Section "This raises the possibility of an unscrupulous person (whether a debtor, an intervening lender or an unrelated troublemaker) filing a release without the secured party's consent or knowledge....In many cases the damaged lender or prosecuting authorities will be unable to prove who made the filing...and new innocent lenders could file intervening financing statements before the damaged lender knows that his lien has become unperfected."

What's interesting is that the screw-up was made in the 1995 bill and could easily have been amended in the 1996 bill, but it wasn't. Of course, "someone" will try to amend the law in 1997, but who knows how much damage will have been done in the previous seven to nine months? I wonder if an injured lender's insurance company can sue anyone, such as the committee set up under SB 132 of 1994 (again sponsored by Schroeder and Chlouber) to draft this law? Probably not.

Jerry Kopel writes a column for the Statesman based on 22 years past experience as a state legislator.

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