Tens of thousands of Coloradans have already lost Medicaid coverage as continuous eligibility unwinds
The continuous coverage mandate that has kept approximately 1.7 million Coloradans locked into their Medicaid or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) coverage since the declaration of the March 2020 public health emergency has ended and coverage renewals and terminations have begun.
The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF) recently released the first unwind data report for completed renewals and terminations completed in May 2023, and the rates of procedural or administrative disenrollments are concerning: Twenty-six percent (approximately 30,000 Coloradans) of Colorado Medicaid/CHP+ disenrollments in May 2023 were due to procedural reasons. This is referred to as administrative churning, or the loss of coverage based on reasons such as late or missing paperwork.
A report released by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation’s (ASPE) Office of Health Policy in 2022 estimated that approximately 5.3 million children nationwide would lose their Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage as continuous coverage provisions expire, 3.8 million of whom would still being eligible for coverage. According to data from HCPF for fiscal year July 2021 through June 2022, 37% (approximately 629,000) of Colorado’s Medicaid population were children. Due to the high percentage of children covered by Colorado Medicaid, and estimates from the ASPE report, it is likely that large share of the 26% of procedural disenrollments from May involved Colorado children.
Nationwide, 71% of Medicaid/CHIP enrollees who have lost their coverage since the beginning of the continuous coverage unwind have been disenrolled due to procedural reasons. These staggering coverage losses prompted Secretary Xavier Becerra of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to write and send a letter to all U.S. governors urging their states to adopt additional flexibilities to mitigate coverage losses during the unwind. More information on these flexibilities can be found here.
Crucial continuous coverage policies like HB23-1300, passed during the 2023 Colorado General Assembly, can keep Colorado children and families covered and ensure they can access the health care services they need. As the unwind continues, more needs to be done to ensure that Colorado children and families who have Medicaid or CHP+ are not being disenrolled for procedural reasons and are staying on or being connected to coverage as quickly as possible.