October 4, 2019
Pueblo, CO – Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) today received the 2019 Colorado EMS Legislative Champion Award from the Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado for his leadership, support, and commitment to EMS throughout all of Colorado. The award was presented to President Garcia at the Pueblo Hose Co. No. 3 Fire Museum.
“As a paramedic, I understand the challenging work EMS providers do day-in and day-out to keep our communities safe and healthy. That is why I worked tirelessly this session to make sure that we have laws that support them,” said President Garcia. “Our EMS providers are on the front lines and an increasingly important part of our state’s healthcare system, particularly in rural communities, and I am proud to fight for them every day in the Senate.”
“Never before in my 40-year EMS career have I seen such a champion of emergency medical services in such a position to make vital improvements statewide. Not only does Senator Garcia understand the complexities of funding and supporting EMS systems, he knows firsthand the challenges faced by individual responders,” said Scott Sholes, President of Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado.
President Garcia has worked in emergency medical services for nearly 18 years, and continues to serve the Pueblo community as a paramedic with American Medical Response. He also teaches emergency medical services at Pueblo Community College.
As someone who personally understands the toll such a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding career takes on EMS providers, President Garcia carried and passed several pieces of legislation to support them including:
- SB19-065 – Peer Assistance Emergency Medical Service Provider: Roughly 84 percent of first responders – including firefighters, police officers, EMTs, paramedics, and nurses – had experienced a traumatic event on the job, according to a 2017 study by the University of Phoenix. The peer assistance program will give EMS providers critical education, support, and counseling when they face chemical dependency, mental illness, or anything else as a result of their work.
- SB19-174 – Dependent Tuition Assistance Program Eligibility: a bill to make it easier for dependents of certain service members and first responders (including deceased or disabled National Guardsman, prisoners of war, those missing in action, police officers, firefighters, and sheriffs) to be eligible to receive state tuition benefits before receiving federal benefits.
- SB19-242 – Emergency Medical Service Providers Licensing: Currently, regulation of EMS providers, including paramedics, involves certification – not licensure. This bill authorizes a certified emergency medical services provider to apply for licensure, not only acknowledging the hard work and continuing education EMS providers have put into their profession, but also improve outcomes and help more Coloradans get the care they need.
In addition to his work advocating for the emergency medical services community, President Garcia led the Senate Democratic Caucus and helped pass a number of bills that are helping lower the cost of healthcare and helping Coloradans get the care they need, including:
- HB19-1216 – Reduce Insulin Prices: a bill that capped the total copay for insulin, a lifesaving drug for people with diabetes in Colorado.
- SB19-001 – Expand Medication-assisted Treatment Pilot Program: a bill to help Coloradans who are struggling in the face of the opioid epidemic get the treatment they need by expanding the medication-assisted (MAT) treatment pilot program to some of the highest need counties in the state.
- SB19-004 – Address High-cost Health Insurance Pilot Program: a bill that modernizes laws allowing healthcare cooperatives to incorporate consumer protections, such as coverage for preexisting conditions, and encourages consumers to negotiate rates on a collective basis directly with providers.
- HB19-1168 – State Innovation Waiver Reinsurance Program: a bill that created a reinsurance program to help pay high-cost insurance claims. Preliminary rate reductions show the program could lower health insurance premiums across Colorado by an average of 18.2 percent.
- HB19-1174 – Out-of-network Health Care Services: a bill that ends end the practice of surprise billing and allows Coloradans to get the care they need at an affordable price.
- HB19-1001 – Hospital Transparency Measures To Analyze Efficacy: a bill that holds hospitals accountable for lowering costs by requiring them to annually report costs and spending.
- HB19-1004 – Proposal For Affordable Health Coverage Option: a bill to study how to best leverage existing state infrastructure to create a publicly supported health insurance option, delivering affordable health insurance to hardworking Coloradans across the state.
- HB19-1296 – Prescription Drug Cost Reduction Measures: a bill that will help save Coloradans money on prescription medications by increasing industry transparency to reduce prices.
- SB19-005 – Import Prescription Drugs From Canada: a bill that would allow consumers to import prescription medications from Canada
“We’ve been working for several years to tackle the high cost of healthcare in Colorado, and we’re already starting to see the results of those efforts. Insurance premiums for people who buy it on the individual market will likely see a double digit decrease in premiums and people who rely on insulin are already seeing savings. We’ve accomplished a lot, but we still have a lot more work to do to make sure that all Coloradans have accessible, affordable healthcare,” added President Garcia.
For more information about President Garcia and his legislation, please visit: https://leg.colorado.gov/legislators/leroy-m-garcia-jr.