Polis administration facing open records lawsuit over withheld emails at healthcare agency

By Matt Connelly
hospital bed near couch

Jared Polis made hospital transparency a key part of his agenda this session, but several recent reports from Complete Colorado call into question whether the state is being transparent themselves when it comes to several bills involving new hospital regulations working their way through the General Assembly. 

In January, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) put out a report painting hospitals as overly profitable and flush with reserve cash. The report was criticized by the Colorado Hospital Association at the time, with the interest group and other hospitals arguing the state relied on outdated and faulty data intended to inflate the financial health of major hospital systems.

HCPF’s January report served as the basis for several bills working their way through the legislature, including one that would restrict how hospitals could assess facility fees they use to cover overhead and other expenses.   

However, it doesn’t appear Polis and HCPF are in a hurry to come clean about the HCPF report they used as justification to push for these bills. 

According to a Complete Colorado story published this week, the Polis administration is refusing to turn over around 1,000 documents connected to this HCPF report in response to an open records request filed by Complete. 

The emails being withheld by HCPF are being classified as “work product” under attorney-client privilege and deliberative process privilege, and come from the time period earlier this year when HCPF was in the process of finalizing their disputed report. 

Complete Colorado reportedly retained legal counsel and has notified the state they intend to pursue legal action to release any additional documents the state may be unlawfully refusing to turn over. 

What Complete Colorado did uncover in the documents the state agreed to turn over suggests there’s a lot more to the story.

Emails acquired by Complete showed previously unreported ties between HCPF and progressive activists with connections to the legislators carrying out hospital bills this session. 

The bills in question are HB 1215, which would limit hospital fees, HB 1243, which concerns changes to the hospital community benefits, and HB 1226, which concerns hospital transparency and reporting requirements. 

Emails indicate that Kyra deGruy Kennedy, Rocky Mountain Director of Young Invincibles, a far-left non-profit organization that advocates for more government control of healthcare, coordinated with HCPF on the community benefits legislation. 

Kennedy is currently running for the House District 30 seat held by her husband, who is term-limited in 2024. Emails show that Kennedy emailed a group of officials in the Governor’s office and HCPF on Jan. 31 with a list of “action items.” She then emailed a different version of the draft and included advocate comments. Kennedy also offered to be the “primary contact for the advocacy orgs” as the bill progressed through the process.

Given extensive evidence of outside coordination with third parties, it defies common sense that the 1,000 or so documents HCPF is refusing to turn over could all truly be work product or protected by attorney client privilege.  

The only remaining question is what Polis and his lackeys at HCPF are really trying to hide.

Now that HCPF’s withheld emails are apparently going to be reviewed by a judge, the Polis administration may not be able to hide the truth for much longer.

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About the Author:

Matt Connelly is the founder of Campfire Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @MattConnelly.