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  • Writer's pictureVoces Unidas de las Montañas

Expanded healthcare benefits and access regardless of immigration status

We know that undocumented people in Colorado have been shut out of affordable health care and insurance plans. This also includes undocumented pregnant people and children who did not qualify under the Colorado Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) and Medicaid.

In 2022, we supported a new law that continues to improve access to health care for Latinos, regardless of immigration status. Thank you to all of the leaders who helped to advocate for these important changes to cover more Latinos, especially children and pregnant people.

Here is a summary of the legislation:

What is it: Health Benefits For Colorado Children And Pregnant Persons (HB22-1289)

What does it do: The bill expands Medicaid and Children's Basic Health Plan (CHP+) coverage to low-income pregnant people and children, regardless of immigration status (lookalike programs); requires the Insurance Commissioner to improve the quality of health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise; and extends a survey of birthing parents indefinitely, among other requirements, as discussed below.

Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF)

  • Effective January 1, 2025, HCPF must provide comprehensive health insurance coverage for low-income pregnant people and children (age 0 to 18) who would be eligible for Medicaid or CHP+ if not for their immigration status.

  • For pregnant persons, coverage continues for 12 months postpartum so long as this coverage remains available through Medicaid and CHP+ plans.

  • HCPF is required to use a cash system of accounting and has over-expenditure authority for service costs.

  • HCPF is required to report on program implementation, then cost savings and health benefits associated with lookalike programs, at its annual SMART Act hearing.

  • Effective upon the signature of the bill, HCPF is required to:

  • Make comprehensive lactation support services, lactation supplies and equipment (including a single-user double electric breast pump, pump parts and pump collection kit, and, if necessary, access to a loaned multi-user hospital-grade electric breast pump with compatible individual collection kit), and maintenance of multi-user loaned equipment a covered benefit for Medicaid and CHP+ recipients, with access prior to labor and delivery;

  • Drawdown of federal Health Services Initiative funding to improve perinatal and postpartum support after completing a stakeholder process to determine funding priorities;

  • Establish an outreach program to address enrolling eligible groups into insurance options, and to report on outreach and enrollment strategy outcomes by conducting a stakeholder process approximately one and two years after implementation;

  • Pursue a demonstration waiver that authorizes the state to use federal medical assistance payments, in coordination with the Division of Insurance (DOI), to enhance or expand state-subsidized individual health care coverage for low-income Coloradans and, if needed to maximize federal financial participation, for populations eligible under this bill.

  • Eliminate the annual CHP+ enrollment fee.

Division of Insurance, Department of Regulatory Agencies

  • Effective upon the signature of the bill, requires the Insurance Commissioner to establish state-subsidized individual health plans through rule for qualified individuals that are equivalent to coverage provided in a qualified health plan and that maximize affordability, along with other specified requirements to be addressed through rule by the Health Insurance Affordability Board.

  • Effective January 1, 2024, the bill establishes a special insurance enrollment period for individuals who do not have existing insurance coverage when they become pregnant.

Department of Public Health and Environment

  • Effective upon the signature of the bill, makes permanent a Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) health survey for birthing parents and requires the survey to oversample members of groups that comprise a small percentage of the population and that disproportionately experience health inequities.

When does it take effect: Some parts are effective upon the signature of bill while others are effective January 2024 and 2025. See details above.

Other information of note: Lawmakers this year took the opportunity to further expand access thanks, in no small part, to our partners from the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights. Their leadership on Senate Bill 9 in 2021 created a path to allow undocumented people to receive reproductive health services through Medicaid.

Our sister organization, Voces Unidas Action Fund, contracts with a professional team of lobbyist to advocate for key legislative priorities each year. Our local leaders from the central mountain region help identify these legislative priorities and are involved in all parts of our shared policy work. Click here to learn more about our policy work.



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