Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bonus funding vital for children's health insurance

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that Colorado will receive $13.7 million in bonus funding due to gains in children's Medicaid enrollment. In Fiscal Year 2010 (which ended June 30), the state saw a 14 percent increase in children's enrollment. Reports show roughly 287,000 Colorado children were enrolled in Medicaid as of July.

The additional funding is a good thing, as the latest public reports show steady growth in children's Medicaid enrollment. A quarterly report by Colorado Covering Kids and Families states Medicaid enrollment for children continues to gain while enrollment in the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) is on unstable footing. The report indicates the continuing effects of the recession in Colorado are pushing more families into lower income brackets, making them ineligible for CHP+, and in turn leaving Medicaid as the only viable option for children's health coverage.

Colorado appears to be making important strides to accommodate the enrollment increase. The federal government recognized several changes Colorado has made to streamline its enrollment process. Families may now apply without going through an in-person interview and don't have to wait for their eligibility to be approved before coverage begins. The state has also streamlined its applications, allowing the same form to be used by new applicants and those seeking extensions.

Colorado is one of 15 states to receive additional funding for progress made in the past fiscal year.

Expanded Medicaid eligibility is a big part of the legacy for Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, who's leaving office soon. But as our Health Care Director Elisabeth Arenales pointed out in a Denver Post story this week, continued trouble with the Colorado Benefits Management System remains a barrier for many people seeking access to care.

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