The Public Health Emergency Will Extend Through Early 2021

Written by: Jacqueline Tiwonge Nkhonjera
Date Posted: October 16, 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Alex Azar, has extended the public health emergency (PHE) that was declared in response to the Coronavirus pandemic through January 20, 2021. The PHE was initially declared on January 27, 2020 and has been renewed three times since. The duration of the PHE has significant impacts for the Colorado state budget and for people who use Medicaid and CHP+ for their health insurance. 

What is the impact of the PHE on the state budget?  

  • The state of Colorado will likely receive a t federal funding match rate (FMAP) that is enhanced by 6.2 percent for its Medicaid program until March 31, 2021. The CHP+ match rate is enhanced by 4.34 percent during this period. The end date indicates the end of the quarter in which the state of emergency ends, as required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. 
  • The state budget assumed the enhanced FMAP would continue only until the end of 2020. 

What is the impact of the PHE on Medicaid and CHP+ members? 

  • Coloradans who are enrolled in Medicaid cannot lose their coverage. Unless a member voluntarily terminates eligibility or moves out of state, individuals who were enrolled in Medicaid after March 18, 2020 cannot lose coverage until the end of January 2021 (the end of the month in which the PHE ends)This requirement extends to pregnant people who received Medicaid coverage because of their pregnancy. Their coverage will not end 60 days after the end of the month in which they gave birth, as it normally would. This means that postpartum Coloradans who used Medicaid for their pregnancy will maintain access to critical behavioral health services, family planning services, and physical therapy services in the postpartum period. 
  • The state cannot restrict any benefits or raise copays until March 31, 2020. The state budget reduced the adult dental benefit (including the benefit for pregnant women) from $1,500 per year to $1,000 per year. However, for now, that reduction cannot occur until the end of March 2020. 
  • The state cannot require a member to pay a co-pay for COVID-19 testing, services, or treatment.  

Click here for more information on how this extension may benefit you and your communities.  For additional background, click here, and to stay up-to-date on the communications from HCPF about the end of the PHE, go here. 

Jacqueline Tiwonge Nkhonjera

About Jacqueline Tiwonge Nkhonjera

Jacqueline Nkhonjera is the Communications and Advocacy Fellow for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she supports strategic advocacy and communications tactics. This includes digital and print communications as well as community outreach and engagement. Before coming to the Children’s Campaign, Jacqueline worked as a public policy fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado, and as a journalist at the National Public Radio (NPR) Education Desk. She graduated from Colorado College in May of 2020 with a degree in Political Science.