Medicaid expansion in Colorado could add 160,000 to program

The Colorado State Legislature voted in May to expand Medicaid to potentially 160,000 additional low-income people in the state. The expansion is part of the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, but the U.S. Supreme Court gave states the right to opt in or out.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, Coloradans with income up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for health care under Medicaid. That translates to about $31,300 for a family of four or $15,300 for an individual, according to the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. Currently, only those at 100 percent or less of the federal poverty level qualify for Medicaid.

Childless adults and adults without a dependent child are included in Colorado’s Medicaid coverage.

The federal government will pick up the tab for the expansion for the first three years, and after that states will be responsible for the cost. One source of funding for the expansion is the hospital provider fee, authorized in Colorado in 2009, which is matched by federal dollars.
Gov. John Hickenlooper estimates the additional cost to Medicaid at $128 million over the next 10 years, but he has said that potential savings in the program will more than pay for the expansion. Critics of the expanded program have said costs will be much higher.

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