Colorado could lose out on $14B in Med­i­caid fund­ing

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By John In­gold

Colorado would lose out on $14 bil­lion in fed­eral fund­ing for Med­i­caid by 2030 if Congress re­peals the Af­ford­able Care Act and re­places it with the Repub­li­can-backed plan known as the Amer­i­can Health Care Act, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port Thurs­day.

The re­port, by the non­par­ti­san Colorado Health In­sti­tute, also found that 600,000 fewer peo­ple would prob­a­bly be cov­ered by Med­i­caid in the state by 2030 than if the cur­rent law re­mains in place. That group rep­re­sents peo­ple who would have been cov­ered by ex­panded Med­i­caid eligibility rules that the Amer­i­can Health Care Act would phase out. Be­cause those peo­ple would have low, though not quite poverty-level, in­comes, the Colorado Health In­sti­tute pre­dicts that many of them would be un­able to af­ford in­sur­ance in the pri­vate mar­ket and would in­stead go with­out.

“Colorado stands to lose sub­stan­tial fund­ing and Med­i­caid en­roll­ment through the AHCA,” the re­port con­cludes, us­ing the GOP plan’s acro­nym.

The Colorado Health In­sti­tute’s anal­y­sis is the first to pro­vide spe­cific num­bers for how the AHCA would im­pact Med­i­caid in the state. The bill would make two ma­jor changes to Med­i­caid: First, it would phase out the Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion that al­lowed peo­ple slightly above the poverty line to be en­rolled on the gov­ern­ment-funded pro­gram; Sec­ond, it would cap the amount of money the fed­eral gov­ern­ment gives to states ev­ery year to run Med­i­caid.

The changes would pose a dilemma for the state be­cause health care costs would likely rise faster than money com­ing in from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

This would grad­u­ally shift re­spon­si­bil­ity for Colorado’s multi­bil­lion-dol­lar Med­i­caid sys­tem — which is cur­rently shared roughly equally by the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments — onto the state bud­get.

Un­less the state can come up with new money to pay for it, the only op­tions would be to cut back on who is eligible for Med­i­caid, re­duce the ser­vices pro­vided to those on Med­i­caid or slash what the sys­tem pays to doc­tors for treat­ing Med­i­caid pa­tients, the Colorado Health In­sti­tute re­port con­cludes.

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