Colorado governor to announce Medicaid expansion

DENVER — Colorado will expand Medicaid coverage for low-income adults as called for by President Barack Obama’s federal health care law, Gov. John Hickenlooper said he plans to announce Thursday.

Hickenlooper said he has identified $280 million in Medicaid savings over the next 10 years to pay for the change.

Colorado’s expansion would add about 225,000 people to the state’s Medicaid rolls, which currently cover about 620,000 people.

A statement from the governor’s office said the Medicaid changes “will more than cover the cost of the expansion.”

At least 14 states and Washington, D.C., already have indicated they would try to expand Medicaid, a signature goal of the new health care law. Governors in nine states have said they won’t participate.

The Medicaid overhaul is one of the two main ways the federal health law expands coverage to most of the 50 million uninsured U.S. residents.

As a broader Medicaid safety net picks up more low-income people, new health insurance markets, called exchanges, will offer subsidized private coverage to the middle class.

Both parts of the strategy take effect in 2014, at the same time that most Americans will be required to carry health insurance or pay a fine.

A national report last year said Colorado would have to spend up to $858 million over the next 10 years on the Medicaid expansion. Nationally, growing the program will cost more than $1 trillion from 2013 to 2022, said the joint report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Urban Institute. The analysis, however, found that states could pay $76 billion of that.

The Hickenlooper administration disputed the $858 million projection.

Hickenlooper’s proposed changes will likely face scrutiny by the state Legislature, which begins work next week.


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