New CKF Report: Colorado’s Progress Toward a Simplified Medicaid and CHP+ Enrollment System

In the past two and a half years, Colorado has made great strides on the state level to streamline Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) enrollment. As the Affordable Care Act impacted health care reform at a national level, Colorado chose to implement several state-level policies separate from the major provisions in the national health law.

Eleven of these state-based changes are profiled in CKF’s newest report, Colorado’s Progress Toward a Simplified Medicaid and CHP+ Enrollment System: 2014 Update. Some of the changes benefiting the health of low-income Coloradans include:

  • Aligning Medicaid eligibility levels for kids. By removing the Medicaid “stair step” in 2013, income thresholds for children were aligned up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). This eligibility alignment alleviated confusion for families and ensured children of the same family could be enrolled in the same health plan and see the same doctor. As of September 2014, more than 50,000 children were enrolled in Medicaid as a result of this change.
  • Increasing the Medicaid eligibility level for pregnant women. The income threshold for pregnant women http://cialisfrance24.com to qualify for Medicaid was raised to 185 percent FPL in 2013, increasing the likelihood that low-income pregnant women will get the prenatal and dental care they need so their children can have the healthy start they deserve. As of September 2014, more than 1,800 pregnant women are enrolled in Medicaid because of this eligibility expansion.
  • Implementing 12-month continuous eligibility for kids with Medicaid and CHP+. Children enrolled in Medicaid and CHP+ can now stay enrolled in one program (either Medicaid or CHP+) for a full year. This increases continuity of care for kids and removes the negative health impacts of moving between coverage programs during the year because of family changes.

Colorado has also taken steps to improve oral health for adults and kids. In 2014, an adult dental Medicaid benefit was added, and the dental benefits for kids with CHP+ were expanded to better meet their needs, including increasing the number of covered cleanings from one to two.

Other changes to program rules have eliminated the need for children to be uninsured for three months before becoming eligible for CHP+. The state also made Medicaid an option for higher-income kids with disabilities through a buy-in program, and CHP+ is now a health coverage option for children of state employees.

One more change is on the horizon: slated for implementation in 2015, legally present children who would qualify for Medicaid or CHP+ except that they have not lived in the U.S. for five or more years will become eligible to apply for Medicaid and CHP+ benefits. Legally present pregnant women who have been in the country less than five years can already qualify for prenatal care with Medicaid, but this change will also make prenatal care through CHP+ an option for legally present immigrant women. When this change is implemented, more than 5,000 children and pregnant women are expected to benefit.

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Stephanie Brooks is the Policy Analyst for Colorado Covering Kids and Families (CKF). CKF's mission is to increase access to affordable health coverage and high quality health care by ensuring that Medicaid, Child Health Plan Plus, and subsidized private insurance through Colorado’s state-based marketplace consistently meet the needs of low-income Coloradans. The Colorado Community Health Network is the lead agency for the project.