DENVER (KDVR) — A pandemic-era rule that banned states from kicking people off of Medicaid is over. Now, Colorado lawmakers are looking to extend the benefit for young children and people who just left prison.
A bipartisan bill headed to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk would extend the so-called “continuous coverage requirement” for children 3 years and younger for another two years. For people who recently finished a prison sentence, it would be extended for another year.
“This bill will ensure that some of Colorado’s most vulnerable populations can continue to access quality health care coverage,” bill sponsor Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Adams and Jefferson, said in a statement. “By extending the programs covered by this measure, we are improving public health and building equity in our health care system so that more Coloradans can access the care they need to thrive.”
House Bill 1300 cleared the Senate on Monday with a 31-3 vote and now awaits the governor’s signature.
The measure applies to the state’s Medicaid and Child Health Plus, or CHP+, health care coverage programs. If signed, the bill will also require a study on the costs and benefits of extending continuous coverage to other groups, like all children under 6, unhoused people and people on probation.
Medicaid ‘continuous coverage’ rule borne of pandemic
At the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government prohibited states from kicking people off Medicaid, even if they were no longer eligible. Before the pandemic, people would regularly lose their Medicaid coverage if they started making too much money to qualify for the program, gained health care coverage through their employer or moved into a new state.
Over the next year, states will be required to start checking the eligibility again of every person who is on Medicaid. People will have to fill out forms to verify their personal information, including address, income and household size.
Around 1.7 million people are enrolled in Colorado’s public health coverage programs, according to the state’s Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. The state said it will begin checking eligibility again in May, with the overall renewal process to last an estimated 12 months.
The bill requires the state to seek federal authorization to extend continuous coverage by April 1, 2024, which is within the yearlong window Colorado has planned for its eligibility checks.
Prime sponsors of the bill include Zenzinger; Senate Minority Whip Barbara Kirkmeyer, R-Larimer and Weld; Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Arapahoe and Denver; and Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Adams and Jefferson.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.