Hickenlooper expands Medicaid under ACA

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Gov. John Hickenlooper announced plans to expand Medicaid coverage to people living within 133 percent of the federal poverty level, in line with federal guidelines under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Supreme Court said states could decide whether or not to expand Medicaid coverage in a landmark decision upholding most of the law, including mandatory coverage requirements. Hickenlooper’s move means that the federal government will pay for 100 percent of the expansion for the first three years of the program. In 2017, the federal match tapers down, and in 2020, the state will be responsible for covering 10 percent of the cost.

Estimates are that 161,000 people will be eligible for coverage under the new guidelines – people making $14,856 or $30,657 for families of four.

“We worked diligently over the past several months to find savings in order to expand coverage,” Hickenlooper said. “Not one dollar from the general fund will be used for this expansion, even in 2017, when the federal government begins to reduce its share.”

The move will save Colorado $290 million in Medicaid spending during the next 10 years, according to the state’s Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, thanks to the federal match and other health-related revenue.

The Colorado Hospital Association applauded the move, saying that expanding coverage will reduce the burden of uncompensated care. The association pushed for a Medicaid provider fee in 2009, which expanded coverage to more than 66,000 uninsured people in the state.

“Since its’ inception, uncompensated care costs related to Medicaid and CICP programs have decreased by $214 million,” said CHA CEO Steven Summer. “Even with that reduction, hospitals still provide more than a billion dollars of uncompensated care annually.”