2020 was a year of change in many ways, with many new stressors – whether personal, professional, emotional, or financial. Despite these challenges, we wanted to highlight some 2020 successes in how low-income Coloradans can access, retain, and afford coverage, as well as what we are looking forward to in 2021.
Throughout the year, we advocated for policies and system changes that would enable Coloradans to access and retain health coverage more easily. We encouraged The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) to release guidance on remote enrollment assistance during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, partnered with HCPF on the issue of returned mail, and met with HCPF department leadership every other month and HCPF eligibility leadership every month to highlight and resolve barriers members and assisters were facing in health coverage eligibility and enrollment.
In response to COVID-19:
- Due to a federal provision, over 336,000 Coloradans, who would have otherwise lost benefits or been moved to a lower benefit category, retained their Health First Colorado coverage.
- Assistance sites implemented creative solutions to help Coloradans enroll in coverage, such as drop boxes and remote application support.
- Many Coloradans enrolled in Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+), with over 1.3 million people enrolled at the end of 2020. However, Health First Colorado enrollment did not increase as much as was predicted at the onset of COVID-19.
In 2020, the Colorado Legislature:
- Implemented the reinsurance program, resulting in a 20% decrease in the average premium of Connect for Health Colorado plans.
- Passed the Health Care Coverage Easy Enrollment Program that will connect Coloradans to health coverage through their state income tax return form.
- Passed the Health Care Insurance Affordability Enterprise. This bill will fund the reinsurance program, expand subsidies for Coloradans on the individual market, and provide state-subsidies for Coloradans who are not eligible for federal tax credits.
In 2021, CKF will:
- Work with HCPF to ensure that when the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends, eligible members remain enrolled in coverage, and experience minimal barriers to retaining coverage.
- Monitor the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act and how it may impact Coloradans.
- Follow, analyze, and report on Health First Colorado and CHP+ enrollment changes and trends.
- Maintain a high-level of expertise on relevant federal rules from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, especially during the upcoming federal administration transition. We will also continue to advocate that rules and guidance are implemented in Colorado with minimal barriers to enrollment.
- Continually adapt to the needs of you and your clients as we are met with the unexpected, just as we did through the COVID-19 pandemic.
To all the assisters, advocates, and community partners, thank you for your dedication to the health and wellbeing of your clients. Your assistance helps Coloradans navigate a complicated health care system to access essential health coverage and care.