Public Health Emergency Planning

NEWS UPDATE: 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 July 20, 2021 and would end, unless extended again, on Oct. 18, 2021. The Biden administration has indicated they will keep extending the PHE throughout 2021 and there will be a 60-day notice period before any end to the PHE.

The PHE designation is important as it allows the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF) 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.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government declared a public health emergency (PHE). During the PHE, state agencies are required to continue health care coverage for all medical assistance programs, even if someone's eligibility changes.

As a result, we are keeping our Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid program) and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) members covered during the PHE so they don't have to worry about their health and wellbeing during this challenging time.

No one knows how long the PHE may last, so we need to prepare now. As soon as we know when it will end, we will notify our members and partners. This web page provides resources for stakeholders, providers and partners as the Department plans for upcoming changes that will result at the end of the PHE. Information for members will be posted at HealthFirstColorado.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the public health emergency and how does it affect members?

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government declared a public health emergency (PHE). During the PHE, state agencies are required to continue health care coverage for all medical assistance programs, even if someone's eligibility changes.

As a result, we are keeping our Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid program) and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) members covered during the PHE so they don't have to worry about their health and wellbeing during this challenging time.

How long will the PHE last?

No one knows yet when the PHE will end. The federal government already extended the timeframe of the public health emergency four times, and they may do so again. It has currently been extended through Oct. 18, 2021. That means members who may no longer be eligible for benefits can rest assured we have them covered through that date.

The PHE may be extended beyond Oct. 18, but we may not know that until the last minute. We have asked for as much notice as possible so we can notify any impacted members of changes to their benefits and help connect them to other coverage options.

What will happen when the PHE ends?

We don't know how long the PHE may last, so we need to prepare now. As soon as we know when it will end, we will notify our members and partners.

Here's what will happen:

  • State policy amendments and coverage of COVID-19 testing for the uninsured end immediately (day of).
  • Coverage for members who are no longer eligible ends at the end of that month.
  • Eligibility levels and benefits that have been maintained may change at the end of the quarter. Changes could include:
    • Eligibility category change
    • Buy-in monthly premiums will be due again
    • CHP+ yearly enrollment fees will be due again
    • The state will lose the 6.2% enhanced federal funding (FMAP) at the end of the quarter.
    • Increased co-pays and dental benefit changes resulting from legislation this year are effective at the end of the quarter after the PHE ends.

What if a member loses their coverage?

We want all Coloradans to get covered and stay covered. If a member is no longer eligible for Health First Colorado or CHP+, they will receive:

  • Notice of when their enrollment ends
  • Information on how to appeal
  • Information about options for purchasing other health care coverage.

What can members do now?

What are the other health care coverage options?

Coloradans who are not eligible for Health First Colorado or CHP+ can purchase health insurance through the state's official health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado.

  • Within 60 days of losing their health coverage

or

  • Anytime during the open enrollment period from Nov. 1 through Jan. 15, which has been extended by a special enrollment period this year through at least Aug. 15, 2021.

Coloradans who do not qualify for Health First Colorado or CHP+ may be able to get financial help to lower the cost of private health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado. The amount of financial help is based on the cost of the premiums where the applicant lives, how many people are in their household and their estimated yearly income.

Learn more at ConnectForHealthCO.com or 855-752-6749:

  • Get expert help signing up for health coverage by working with a certified assister or broker, online or in person.
  • Browse plans and costs with an easy, anonymous online tool.
  • Find out how much financial help you may qualify for.
  • Get enrolled!

How will HCPF work with its partners?

  • We will work closely with our county and eligibility partners to redetermine members' eligibility and only disenroll those who are not eligible at the end of the PHE
  • We will properly notice all members whose eligibility ends or changes at the end of PHE about changes to their benefits or enrollment status, including appeal information
  • We will work closely with Connect for Health Colorado to connect Coloradans to other health coverage options.

How can I get more information?

The Department will continue to provide messaging to members through the Health First Colorado newsletter, PEAK, the Health First Colorado mobile app, emails, text messages and social media.

We will also provide policy and operational information to our partners through stakeholder meetings, at Colorado.gov/HCPF/COVID and through our COVID-19 newsletter.

 

Member Communications

County and Eligibility Partner Guidance

Provider Guidance