Due to COVID-19’s impact on the economy and increase in unemployment, many Coloradans are expected to become newly eligible for Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+). The total number of enrolled members will only grow because during this time members are not being disenrolled unless the member voluntarily terminates coverage, moves out of state, dies, or becomes incarcerated. This is because of a provision in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that requires states to keep all Medicaid members who were enrolled on March 18, 2020, in their health benefits for the duration of the federal public health emergency (PHE), which is currently expected to end on December 31, 2020. This provision is often referred to as continuous eligibility or that members have been ‘locked-into’ their coverage.
On June 3, HCPF shared an enrollment forecast that 527,000 Coloradans will enroll in Health First Colorado and CHP+ during the time of the PHE, between April 1 and December 31, 2020. With the members who are ‘locked into’ coverage and the new enrollees, the Health First Colorado and CHP+ caseload is expected to reach a total of 1.8 million members before the PHE ends. This is a 42% increase from March 2020.
When the PHE does end, an estimated 332,000 members will be disenrolled. Despite these disenrollments, there will be 333,000 more members than March 2020. This would mean 32% of Coloradans are covered by Health First Colorado and CHP+ before the disenrollments, and 28% after. The process for disenrollments is still unclear. We will share more information as HCPF receives guidance from federal agencies and determines their plan.
It is very clear that the continuous eligibility requirements are already making a difference in the caseload and in the lives of members. HCPF reported that without this locked-in coverage, 47,477 members would have been disenrolled in April and an additional 49,389 in May. Some members who are locked into benefits during the PHE would have been moved to a lower benefit category, 4,277 in April and 8,734 in May. This policy supports the health of Coloradans by enabling access to essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic that may not have been accessible otherwise. CKF will continue to follow predictions for the Health First Colorado and CHP+ caseloads and the end of the PHE.
- HCPF Conversation with Local Governments, June 3, 2020, https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/HCPF%20Presentation%20for%20DOLA%20and%20Commissioners%206-3-2020.pdf
- HCPF PM 20-004, COVID-19 Continuous Enrollment for Existing Medical Assistance Members, https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/HCPF%20PM%2020-004%20COVID-19%20Continuous%20Enrollment%20for%20Existing%20Medical%20Assistance%20Members.pdf