Colorado was one of 15 states to receive a grant from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this week, thanks to changes that the state made in the enrollment process for Medicaid in order to expand the program. Colorado got $13.7 million, which will be used to help finance the state’s Medicaid system.
Medicaid enrollment for children in Colorado was up 14% as of June 2010, compared with a year earlier. This increase came on the heels of a record-setting increase (14%) in 2009 in terms of the total number of Colorado residents covered by Medicaid.
In order to receive the federal award money, Colorado had to make enrolling in Medicaid an easier process. This – in combination with the recession and high unemployment numbers – has been a driving factor in Colorado’s rapidly growing Medicaid population. In-person interviews are no longer required for Medicaid enrollment, and the state has switched to using presumptive eligibility, meaning that applicants are enrolled in the program as soon as they apply. If it is determined that they don’t actually qualify for coverage, they are removed from the program.
Colorado implemented a new law earlier this year to impose fees on hospitals in order to generate the revenue needed to expand Medicaid and CHP+ access to roughly 150,000 additional residents. Expanding health insurance coverage has been a primary goal of Governor Bill Ritter, and the new federal funding Colorado received this week indicates that the state’s efforts are paying off. The state still has a long way to go before everyone here has health insurance coverage, but we’re making progress, and are generally considered to be well-positioned to comply with federal health care reform changes that will take effect in 2014.