Health First Colorado and Criminal Justice Involved Populations

The Department of Health Care Policy and Finance (HCPF) is working to improve health outcomes for criminal justice-involved individuals. This page offers current information, updates, and the latest guidance so that we may ensure best practices and improve access.

Ongoing Initiatives

  • 1115 Waiver for Reentry Services: In 2022, the Colorado General Assembly passed SB22-196, requiring HCPF to evaluate and decide if the state should seek additional federal authority to provide screening, brief intervention, and care coordination services through Health First Colorado (Colorado Medicaid) to people immediately before they are released from jail or a Department of Corrections facility. HCPF engaged Health Management Associates (HMA), a national healthcare consulting firm, to fulfill the requirements of SB 22-196.

    The final report, Federal Authority to Support Health Related Re-Entry Services, outlines the population that would be covered, the services and benefits, the costs of these services and the potential impact to Coloradans. The report states there are public health and financial benefits to HCPF covering a limited benefit for Medicaid eligible justice-involved population up to 90 days prior to release, and potential to improve outcomes for these individuals transitioning out of jails, prisons, and juvenile facilities. Based on the fiscal analysis, implementing transitional services for Medicaid-eligible members in prisons, jails and juvenile youth facilities is unlikely to increase state dollar expenditure. HCPF has also determined it is inappropriate to seek additional Federal authority without additional legislative and budget actions. Most specifically, this program requires budget adjustments across state Departments and approval for state budget changes to ensure program success. Accompanying that report is an Alternate Plan, which discusses options if Colorado does not offer federally authorized pre-release services.

  • ARPA 8.10 Criminal Justice Partnerships: HCPF is working to develop and implement best practices for engaging with justice-involved members in services. This project is currently conducting stakeholder engagement through the end of 2023 to identify gaps in service delivery and explore best practices. Check “Opportunities for Engagement” below on ways to get involved.
  • Medicaid & CHP+ Juvenile Justice Transition Support: The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 requires states to offer limited Medicaid benefits to eligible justice-involved juveniles post-adjudication and prior to release. The implementation date for these benefits is January 1, 2025.

Please reach out to hannah.hall@state.co.us with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Eligibility for Criminal Justice-Involved Populations

All applications for Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) for incarcerated individuals can be completed, submitted, and processed while they are awaiting release. The process should not be postponed until their release. Incarcerated individuals may be approved for Limited Medicaid Benefits for Incarcerated Individuals if all other eligibility criteria are met. After release, an individual may qualify for full Health First Colorado benefits if they continue to meet eligibility criteria. 

The county human services office must be informed of the member’s release for full benefits to be reinstated, and the release date may be provided when known. Please reference this Operational Memo (OM23-058) for additional information on the Department’s eligibility policy on Limited Medicaid Benefits for Incarcerated Individuals. 

Health First Colorado-covered services are available to Community Corrections (halfway houses) facility residents who would otherwise be Health First Colorado eligible, including individuals who reside at the facility involuntarily. See policy statement from June 1, 2016 - Medicaid Eligibility of Individuals Residing in Community Corrections Facilities (or "Halfway Houses")

Hospital Guidance

Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments

Inmates Receiving Care at Correctional Care Medical Facility of Denver Health Medical Center

Federal Medicaid Coverage Policy for Inmates of a Public Institution

For questions related to Health First Colorado and Criminal Justice-Involved Populations or historical documents previously found on this page, please contact: 

Hannah Hall 

Michelle Cornett  



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HCPF Criminal Justice Collaborative