Colorado Medical Society v. HickenlooperAnnotate this Case
In 2010, then-Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. consulted with the state's medical and nursing boards and concluded that opting out of the supervision requirement for certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) would be consistent with state law and would be in the state's best interest. The Governor sent notice of his conclusions to the federal government, and exercised the opt-out as to all critical access hospitals in Colorado and certain rural general hospitals. Petitioners, the Colorado Medical Society and the Colorado Society of Anesthesiologists, filed suit against the Governor, claiming that Colorado law did not permit CRNAs to administer anesthesia without supervision by a physician. The Governor and three intervening medical associations (respondents) moved to dismiss petitioners'' complaint. The trial court found that petitioners failed to state a valid claim and granted the motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeal affirmed. Petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court, which also affirmed, albeit on different grounds: the Court found petitioners had standing, however, contrary to the assumption that belied this case (the Governor's attestation with regard to physician supervision of CRNAs) is not a generally binding interpretation of Colorado that is subject to de novo review. The Governor's decision, if reviewable at all, is reviewable only for a gross abuse of discretion. Because petitioners did not allege as much, the case was properly dismissed.