Enrollment in Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+ – Colorado’s CHIP Program) is dropping throughout 2019. Enrollment in both programs has decreased by 44,228, or 3.9%, from January to September 2019.

The total number of adults, pregnant adults, and children enrolled in non-disability programs (i.e. Modified Adjusted Gross Income, or MAGI programs) for Health First Colorado decreased by 9,396, or 0.9%, from the beginning of July to the end of September 2019.The total number of children and pregnant adults enrolled in CHP+ decreased by 2,109 or 2.6% from the beginning of July to the end of September 2019.

[Additional details and graphs are available in CKF’s 2019 Quarter Three Health First Colorado and CHP+ Enrollment Analysis]

There are a few reasons for the decrease:

The final rule by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on public charge, which would include Medicaid as a factor of declaring a lawful immigrant a ‘public charge,’ and decrease their ability to get a green card, was blocked from going into effect October 15 by several federal injunctions. While the rule is not in effect (as of the time of publishing), its pending implementation has created a ‘chilling effect’ on enrollment likely persuading many lawful immigrants and their families to not enroll or disenroll in Health First Colorado.

Colorado’s economy is strong, and more Health First Colorado members may be losing eligibility due to increasing family incomes. However, CHP+ enrollment would likely rise or stay steady from families moving from Health First Colorado to CHP+ or off of CHP+, if this were the case. Since enrollment in both programs is decreasing, this is likely not the main factor.

Looking to the Future:

CKF anticipates further decline in enrollment in CHP+ and Health First Colorado. The final public charge rule has recently been blocked by an injunction from the courts; however, until the cases are settled and ruled upon, the chilling effect is likely to continue.

We will continue to monitor the situation – please reach out to Shoshi Preuss with any comments or questions on this post or the drop in enrollment.