In Part I of her interview with Catherine Strode, Senator Boyd discussed asked the proposed transfer of services for the elderly and services for people with developmental disabilities to the Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing.
Senator Boyd, What do you think about the potential transfer and will you be sponsoring a bill to authorize the transfer?
“I will confirm. I will carry a Bill. The intent of the Bill, as I see it, is to initially consolidate the administrative function in one department so that HCPF has responsibility for everything Medicaid. And as I see it, that was just Phase One of the whole process. There would be no change immediately in the way services are delivered. I think there is fear about that. But Phase Two would be a very extensive stakeholder process that would determine the best options for service delivery in the future which might take a year or even longer. But there is that second phase planned. So other than who the employees relate to, which department cuts their check, there should not be any immediate change in service delivery and I think that’s one thing people are really worried about. There are those who are saying ‘you are putting the cart before the horse.’ I think the sooner that we can at least consolidate those administrative functions, the better. I know HCPF is doing a lot of consumer and stakeholder work and they’re doing more in the near term.”
Your bill, then, would strictly address Phase One, that is, the administrative transfer of duties?
“I understand it likely will do Phase One and have language directing Phase Two.”
What do you think could be the benefits of the HCPF transfer administratively?
“I think for openers we as a state are required to have one Medicaid agency, one agency that handles all of the Medicaid. Because at the time that Medicaid came into existence, HCPF didn’t exist. It was the Department of Health and Human Services and everything was in one department. But when HCPF was formed, they took the financial function and Medicaid. But it was worked out so the service delivery happened through human services. So this is trying to get back to having a consolidation of what seems to be a better way of organizing so Medicaid is all in one place. And as we look at long term care, which is the big and growing issue and will be the huge issue in the not too distant future with the explosion of aging baby boomers, we’ve got to be looking very carefully at how we deliver long term care services. I think it would create some really important efficiencies.”
Which health care bills being presented in this legislative session will have the greatest impact?
“Of those that are in the hopper right now, I would say this bill for the consolidation of those programs and HCPF.”
How do you think this bill will affect the future of Medicaid in the state of Colorado?
“Hopefully it would make Medicaid care more efficiently managed.”
Coloradans with disabilities have long faced the complex issue of accessing Medicaid benefits while not crossing the fine line of generating too much income as to render them ineligible. They’ve also found themselves in instances where they’ve fallen through the cracks coverage-wise while transitioning from Medicaid to Medicare during long wait periods or where they wish to retain Medicaid coverage as a back up to Medicare coverage. Luckily, a new Medicaid Buy-in Program for Working Adults with Disabilities is on the brink of release and will hopefully provide a solution for these situations.
Beginning in March 1, 2012, working Coloradans ages 16 through 64 who have a disability will be able to apply for the Medicaid Buy-in Program for Working Adults by completing an application through their local regional county office, online at Colorado.gov/PEAK (or call 1-800-221-3943 for information). Accepted applicants will be offered the chance to pay monthly premiums based on their income for Medicaid benefits such as office visits, hospitalizations, x-rays, home health services, durable medical equipment and prescription medications. There is, however, a cap on how much working adults with disabilities may generate in income. Applicants may earn up to 450% of the federal poverty line (roughly $45,009). Income disregards will be applied prior to determining an applicant’s income for the purposes of this program.
To learn more about this program and how it may benefit you please check out this Fact Sheet and, if you have questions, please contact Kimberley Smith with the Colorado Department of Health Care and Financing Policy (303-866-3991/800-659-2656 TTY/TDD).
Note: This blog was written/edited by AdvocacyDenver with resource and editing assistance from the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.