Phase II Coronavirus Response Bill contains major policy wins for pregnant people and kids in Colorado

Written by: Erin Miller
Date Posted: March 27, 2020

The Coronavirus response bill being considered Friday is the third in a package developed by Congress to respond to the pandemic. The second bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, contains several provisions that will benefit the health and well-being of pregnant people and children in Colorado.

One of the provisions with the greatest potential to improve maternal and child health in Colorado is increasing the federal Medicaid matching rate by 6.2 percent and increasing CHIP matching rates by a slightly lower amount. In order to qualify for the increase, states must freeze all Medicaid disenrollments for the duration of the emergency – meaning that individuals will only lose their Medicaid coverage if they voluntarily choose to leave the program, move out of state or die. States are also not allowed to reduce client benefits during the emergency period. This is great news for Colorado kids who will not lose their health insurance coverage during the emergency.

Further, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance clarifying that this provision applies to pregnant people who would normally lose their coverage at the end of the month 60 days after the end of their pregnancy. This means that these individuals will be able to maintain comprehensive affordable health insurance coverage with limited cost-sharing further into the postpartum period. Maintaining coverage in the postpartum period is a proven strategy for reducing maternal mortality. And in Colorado, we know that behavioral health issues are a driving cause of maternal mortality. Pregnancy-related mood and anxiety disorders are likely to increase in prevalence dramatically in the coming year as families face increased financial pressure due to job losses and increased isolation. This provision will help postpartum people maintain access to critical behavioral health services.

The Families First Act does not extend the same coverage protections to pregnant people covered by CHIP, which is unfortunate. Colorado covers pregnant people from roughly 138 percent of the federal poverty line to 185 percent of the federal poverty line in Medicaid, and provides CHIP coverage for pregnant people from 185 percent of poverty to 260 percent of poverty. Still, we estimate that roughly 1,000 pregnant and postpartum individuals covered by Colorado Medicaid will benefit from extended coverage this year. We will keep you updated here as this provision is implemented in Colorado.

Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin serves as the Vice President of Health Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign, leading efforts to improve health insurance coverage and quality for Colorado’s kids, improve access to health services, and ensure that every child has healthy places to live, learn, and play. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2015, Erin worked on the Accountable Care Collaborative team at the Colorado Department of Health Policy and Financing. She has extensive experience evaluating federal, state, and local policies related to Medicaid, CHIP, the Affordable Care Act, and public health programs as well as working with legislators, policymakers, constituents, and other stakeholders to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Her professional experiences range from serving as a WIC Educator and Local Area Retail Coordinator for Denver Health to serving as a Special Assistant in the HHS Office of Planning and Evaluation in Washington DC and as a Health Policy Adviser and Budget Analyst for the U.S. House Budget Committee.