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Bill expanding access to prosthetic devices advances with bipartisan support

This shows the Colorado State Capitol building at golden hour surrounded by trees.
Lucas Brady Woods
A bipartisan effort to expand access to prosthetic devices advanced Tuesday at the State Capitol, pictured here on Thursday, Mar. 9, 2023.

A bipartisan bill to expand access to prosthetic devices for sports and physical recreation in Colorado sailed through its first legislative committee hearing Tuesday.

House Bill 1136 would require health insurers to cover additional prosthetics for people under 26 years old if it will help them participate in certain physical activities including running, cycling, swimming, climbing, skiing, and other sports. Insurance policies would have to include the coverage by 2025.

Coloradans are currently entitled to one prosthetic device that’s covered by insurance.

Democratic bill sponsor Representative David Ortiz uses a wheelchair after a helicopter crash while serving in Afghanistan left him paralyzed from the waist down and understands the gravity that such a bill could have on Coloradans.

“I remember those early days after that injury and not knowing what my life could look like. I was essentially thinking my life was over,” Ortiz said. “If it wasn't for access to adaptive sports programs, and the devices I need to participate in them, my outcome would be very different.”

According to the bill’s Republican sponsor in the House, Representative Anthony Hartsook, prosthetics can have extensive long-term benefits for people with disabilities.

“I would much sooner see them get out there, enjoy positive mental health, great physical exercise, lower diabetes, lower heart diseases and better mental health from being able to exercise,” Hartsook said.

The bill was approved unanimously by the House Health and Insurance Committee. It will now undergo a fiscal review before heading to the House floor for a preliminary vote.

I’m the Statehouse Reporter at KUNC, which means I help make sense of the latest developments at the Colorado State Capitol. I cover the legislature, the governor, and government agencies.