May 10, 2021
At a Glance is a Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (Department) publication that provides information on major initiatives, policy changes and program updates. Feel free to share At a Glance with your colleagues. Find previous editions of At a Glance on the Department website at colorado.gov/hcpf/publications. Thank you for your interest!
A Message from the Executive Director
Advancing Policy Together

It’s been an active and exciting month. The Department budget for FY 2021-22 is anticipated to be $13.4 billion. That is 37% of the total state budget and a 10% increase over last year. The bulk of the increase is from Medicaid enrollment due to the pandemic and economic downturn. This budget also reverses cuts made last year. On behalf of the Department and our members, thank you for your partnership in driving this outcome.  
 
In addition to a strong budget, we are also making tremendous progress on serving Coloradans through our legislative initiatives:  
  • Three of our legislative priorities focus on serving members who need long-term services and supports. Our Case Management Redesign bill (HB21-1187) will help build a high-performing conflict-free case management system to serve all populations. SB21-210, Add Remote Supports to Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Programs, will allow the use of remote care to support people with disabilities. Both bills passed with broad bipartisan support and were signed into law by Governor Polis on May 1. A third bill, HB21-1227, Skilled Nursing Facilities: Establishing a Demonstration of Need and Technical Changes, is still in process. This bill would establish criteria for expanding Medicaid skilled nursing providers.   
 
  • In our efforts to transform our behavioral health system to meet the increasing demands of Coloradans covered by Medicaid and other payers, and after months of work with stakeholders, Governor Polis signed HB21-1097. This bill establishes the Behavioral Health Administration as a single state agency to lead, promote and administer the state's behavioral health priorities.  
 
  • Increasing access to the right care, at the right place and for the right price is a key priority for the Department. Notably, our Telemedicine Policy Refinements bill (HB21-1256) builds on prior legislation expanding access to telemedicine to give our Department flexibility to develop an accountability framework for entities whose services are exclusively or predominantly provided through telemedicine. This bill is working its way through the legislative process.  
 
  • Our Department continues to focus on making health care affordable to all Coloradans. Our Expand Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program bill (SB21-123), which expands drug importation to other countries in addition to Canada, was passed and signed into law by the Governor in late April. This initiative has the potential to increase access to more affordable prescription drugs and better pricing and is one of the solutions highlighted in our 2021 Reducing Prescription Drug Costs in Colorado Report.   
 
Our full legislative agenda is here: https://hcpf.colorado.gov/legislator-resource-center
 
Continuing our health care affordability efforts, on April 14, over 350 people attended our webinar on “Hospital Affordability Policy & Community Investments.” The webinar featured national and local experts, including RAND Corporation, Colorado Center for Law and Policy, the Colorado Hospital Association, the Division of Insurance and our Department. A video recording of the webinar is available via the Department’s YouTube. Presentation slides from each affordability webinar are posted to the Department’s Affordability webpage, under the “Webinar Series” section. 
 
Finally, we continue our focus on COVID-19. The uptick in cases is particularly concerning. That is why the Department is focused on vaccination equity, and appreciates your partnership on this effort. Last month, Colorado opened vaccine eligibility to the general public ages 16 and up. The more Coloradans vaccinated, the more we can open up the economy and get back to engaging with family and friends. Please continue to socially distance, wash hands, wear a mask and get the vaccine as directed by the CDC and our local public health officials. Please visit our COVID-19 webpage for information and resources for providers and members. 
 
I will be scheduling community visits now that I am fully vaccinated. I look forward to seeing you and visiting with you during one of these scheduled trips.  
 
Kim  

Breaking News
Public Health Emergency Extended:

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has formally extended the Public Health Emergency (PHE). The PHE can be extended for up to 90 days at a time. This extension started April 21, 2021 and would end, unless extended again, on July 20, 2021. The Biden administration has indicated they will keep extending the PHE throughout 2021. We will continue to keep you updated directly and via our Public Health Emergency Planning page. 

The PHE designation is important as it allows the Department to extend continuous coverage, maintenance of effort (MOE), and other helpful policies and waivers approved by the federal government. It also provides additional enhanced federal funding, which is critical during this economic downturn.

For more information, visit our PHE webpage.
Office of Early Childhood Family Voice Council:

The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) is currently accepting member interest forms for the OEC Family Voice Council! Please share the interest form and the flyers (in English and Spanish) with parents and caregivers in your network.

The OEC Family Voice Council's purpose is to provide input to optimize the design and delivery of early childhood programs and services to ensure all children and families in Colorado are happy, healthy and thriving. We are looking for a diverse group of people who are pregnant, parents, and/or caregivers of children ages birth through 8.

Council members will come together each month to advise, exercise leadership skills, give feedback, and ultimately improve services for children and families. Council members will also have the opportunity for other advocacy or leadership roles. Council members will be compensated for their time and expertise. Child care, mileage reimbursement and food will also be offered. Meetings are scheduled to start in late summer with a virtual meeting option.

For more informtaion, contact amanda.culbertson@state.co.us.
Office of Early Childhood Announces Release of PLAYbook:

On behalf of the Office of Early Childhood, we are thrilled to share the highly anticipated PLAYbook with you!

The PLAYbook contains information and activities that anyone caring for young children – including parents, siblings, guardians, grandparents, babysitters, neighbors, and family friends - can use to prepare children to be successful when entering kindergarten. The PLAYbook contains activities and information that are designed to get caregivers thinking about building the child’s skills in the locations where they spend time together, using what they may already have around their home through play.
Here you will find a digital version of the PLAYbook in English and Spanish to review and share. The PDF file is interactive, allowing users to take notes or use the checklists and interactive tools digitally! The PLAYbook can also be downloaded and printed.

We developed a communication toolkit to help you spread the word on The PLAYbook with those who care for young children. We are grateful for your commitment and partnership to ensuring Colorado’s children are valued, healthy and thriving!

For more informtaion, contact amanda.culbertson@state.co.us.
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Coming Soon:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the application window for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB) will open soon. The EBB Program was created to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The benefit will provide up to $50 per month for broadband service for eligible households, up to $75 per month for households on tribal lands, and a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a single laptop, desktop computer or tablet. Eligibility criteria includes one or more members of a household:
  • Qualifies for the FCC's existing Lifeline program
  • Receives benefits under a free and reduced-price school lunch program or school breakfast program
  • Lost employment or experienced a substantial loss of income since Feb. 29, 2020
  • Is a student who receives a Federal Pell Grant
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for your participating internet provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program

For more information, call 833-511-0311 or visit GetEmergencyBroadband.org/how-to-apply.
Connect for Health Colorado Uninsured Enrollment Period toolkit:

Connect for Health Colorado has opened an Uninsured Enrollment Period to help as many people as possible protect their health and safety during this time. Coloradans who are currently uninsured and don’t qualify for Health First Colorado can sign up for a health insurance plan through May 15, 2021.
 
Please help us spread the word!

Community partners can easily find social media graphics/copy, newsletter copy and virtual brochures in our new toolkit: http://bit.ly/UEPtoolkit
Operational Excellence
Mental Health Parity Addiction Equity Act Webinar:

The Department is hosting a webinar to help members, providers and stakeholders better understand the Mental Health Parity Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). The Department receives many questions and concerns about mental health parity and is aware of the confusion around the topic. To help address some of the confusion, the Department has contracted with Myers and Stauffer LC to facilitate this webinar. This webinar is open to the public.

Mental Health Parity and Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid Program)
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
12 - 1:30 p.m.

The webinar will include: 
  • Introduction to MHPAEA and the Health First Colorado delivery system
  • How MHPAEA applies to Health First Colorado
  • Question and answer (Q&A) session

Please send, in advance, general questions on Mental Health Parity that you would like to have addressed during the Q&A session to COParityQuestions@MSLC.com. While not all questions may be addressed during the webinar, your questions will be used to inform a frequently asked questions document the Department is developing.

PLEASE NOTE: Questions sent to COParityQuestions@MSLC.com will not receive a response email. Formal inquiries or complaints related to Health First Colorado parity should be directed to the Behavioral Health Ombudsman Office of Colorado by phone at 303-866-2789 (State Relay 711) or email at ombuds@bhoco.org.

Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request. Auxiliary aids and services for individuals with disabilities and language services for individuals whose first language is not English may be provided upon request. Please notify Amy Luu at amy.luu@state.co.us or the 504/ADA Coordinator at hcpf504ada@state.co.us at least one week prior to the meeting to make arrangements.
Post Award Forum on the Progress of Colorado's Title XXI Section 1115 Demonstration:

The Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) webpage includes information on Colorado’s Title XXI Section 1115 Demonstration - Adult Prenatal Coverage in Child Health Plan Plus (Project Number 21-W-0001 4/8) upcoming Post Award Forum. The website also includes information on the demonstration’s progress, prior demonstration period interim results, and approval documentation for a five year extension granted through July 2025. 
 
Anyone interested in learning about the demonstration or providing comments or feedback is encouraged to attend the upcoming post award forum. The date, time, and location of the post award forum is hosted to the webpage and will be updated accordingly. 
 
For more information, contact Jeff Jaskunas 
Return Mail Update: Phase 2 scheduled for June 2021

The Department listened to eligibility sites on how we can help improve the returned mail process. Prowers County is the Consolidated Return Mail Center (CRMC) vendor, located in Granada, CO, within Prowers County. The CRMC is different from Prowers County's Department of Human Services.

The CRMC is following established processes and policies. Phase 1 has only included Medical Assistance cases. The pilot started December 2020, which included Prowers, Montrose, and El Paso counties. We have broken counties up into cohorts based on data from the volume of returned mail.

We added Pueblo, Otero and Crowley on Feb 13. It takes approximately 10 days for the first piece of returned mail to show up at the CRMC. The CRMC staff is having no problems keeping up with the added volume; therefore, we are moving forward with cohort 3: Grand, Moffat, Montezuma, Logan, Phillips, Las Animas, Washington, Baca, Bent and Sedgwick counties.

Before the Department brings on a new cohort, we reach out and schedule a welcome/orientation meeting to introduce the county to the CRMC staff and processes, as well as share resources and answer any questions.

Phase 2 is scheduled for June 2021 and will include Colorado Department of Human Services programs.
Helpful Resources
Female provider, kneeling next to parents holding small child.
Enrollment
In March 2021, there were
1,453,035 Coloradans enrolled in Health First Colorado and
62,230 enrolled in Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+).