Colorado to Benefit from Federal Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP Giveback Provisions
With Congress approving giveback in Medicare and a provision that will allow 40 states to keep unspent CHIP money, Colorado nursing homes, hospitals, health plans and uninsured children "could get a needed boost," the Denver Post reports. The $35 billion, 5-year Medicare and Medicaid giveback measure will help Colorado "shore up millions in losses endured by hospitals and nursing homes" because of cuts imposed by the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. Had Congress failed to approve the new measures, Colorado hospitals would have lost an estimated "$1 billion" during the next 10 years. While providers will benefit from the "federal relief package," they also are "bracing" for $19 million in Medicaid payment cuts that state lawmakers are considering. As a result, "patients won't see much change in the medical care they receive." Although it is unclear "how much Colorado will eventually net in savings and grant money," however much the state saves, "it won't be enough to cover rising health care costs to the elderly and working poor," the Denver Post reports. Larry Wall, president of the Colorado Health and Hospital Association, said, "Every little bit helps, but the bottom line is that even with these payments, we are going to see about $900 million in Medicare payment reductions in this state over the next three years."
CHIP Program Relief
In addition to Medicare givebacks, Colorado's CHIP program, Child Health Plan Plus, will get to keep $11.5 million of the $19.1 million it was supposed to have returned to the federal government. In the BBA, Congress allotted states money to establish CHIP programs, giving them until September of this year to spend the funds from the first year of the program. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) co-sponsored the legislation that allows states to keep 60% of the federal allotment. She said, "There are 40,000 kids in Colorado eligible for CHIP who are not enrolled. To restore a portion of the funds gives us hope we'll get them insured" (Austin/Auge, Denver Post, 12/21).