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Medicaid Awareness Month

April is Medicaid Awareness Month, and I want to take some time to cover some vital information for a program referred to as “a lifeline for many.” One of the biggest misconceptions about Medicaid is that it’s only for the population under the federal poverty level or that it is just a handout when, in fact, it is a hand-up! The program is an important safety net for individuals who face hardships in life, which can manifest in several ways.

In the state of Colorado, this program is called “Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program).” Health First Colorado is public health insurance for Coloradans that provides medical assistance to people with limited income and resources. There are currently 35 medical assistance programs under the Health First Colorado umbrella, and the program granted is based on eligibility and the answers on the application. In this blog post, I will include additional information on how to apply, benefit information, and other helpful links.

The main topic I’d like to focus on is the renewal process and how it has evolved. Several years ago, if an individual did not complete the annual renewal packet they got in the mail after being approved for benefits, they would be denied for failure to complete renewal. Years later, that renewal was mailed out; then, the case would automatically re-enroll even if the packets weren’t returned or signed. Then, once again, completing and returning the renewal packet became required; otherwise, your case would be denied for failure to provide. Then, in 2020, we entered the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), which, in the eligibility world, led to cases being “locked into continuous coverage.” This went on for years, and everyone got used to not having to do anything to renew their Medicaid. They always had it without having to complete any renewal packets and without having to submit current verifications. Fast forward to May 2023, initiatives began for the “PHE Unwind,” where all cases needed to be renewed through the standard renewal process. The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) and community partners worked together on several efforts to spread the word to the community to update their addresses, check mail or PEAK correspondence, complete and return the renewal packets, and ensure the packet was signed to prevent gaps in coverage! But again, in history, we were used to auto-re-enrollment, continuous eligibility, and only a few requirements. Now, we are seeing members losing coverage for failure to complete renewal.

Within our Eligibility Application Partner (EAP) site at Colorado Access, we continue to support the community in understanding why their coverage lapsed, when their renewals are due, and what actions to take. We also continue to process new applications to reinstate coverage for members who are still eligible and missed their renewal. The number of people who had old addresses and never received their renewal has been shocking. I encourage you to continue the conversations and share the importance of keeping all contact information current to prevent a lapse in coverage.

In the spirit of Medicaid Awareness Month, I want to share one of my favorite stories that still lives within our department today, which demonstrates this program’s impact on our community! In 2015, our former quality auditor met with a client shortly after the Affordable Care Act changed Medicaid coverage to include adult dental coverage. A member came in and explained she needed some dental work; she explained she couldn’t sing in the choir at church because of this. Our auditor explained the benefits and guided her through the application process; she qualified, and shortly after, we were able to approve Medicaid coverage! She got the dental work she needed, could sing again, and had joy back in her life. Every year after, she called and sang “Happy Birthday” to our auditor with her beautiful voice to remind her of the difference she had made in her life!

How to Apply:

Schedule an appointment with our EAP site:

Other Helpful Links