Colorado Medicaid will add 9,250 of the neediest adults to health insurance coverage this year, doubling a program paid for by hospital fees and wiping out much of a waiting list.
Poor adults without dependent children were one of the few groups left out of Medicaid until last year, when the state used the hospital funds to open rolls to the first 10,000 applicants. They were among the most impoverished in the state, with income of less than $90 a month and often with chronic, debilitating illnesses.
The program quickly filled up, but months later, Medicaid officials say they are spending less than projected on each of those new patients. Each is enrolled in an "accountable care" group where doctors and administrators are paid a per-member fee to closely manage care and avoid duplicative services.
Those savings and the robust provider-fee revenues will now allow the state to enroll 3,000 more adults in April, with an additional 1,250 added each month by October. That would eliminate much of the current waiting list of 11,000 people for the adults-without-children category.
"History had said this would be a very expensive group," said Steven Summer, president of the Colorado Hospital Association, which helped negotiate the provider fee legislation in 2009. Managing their care appears to be working, Summer said, "and we're all beginning to reap the benefits."
Many more Colorado residents will automatically become eligible for Medicaid on Jan. 1, when the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion takes full effect.
Analysts expect more than 200,000 more Medicaid enrollees in Colorado as a result of the 2014 federal expansion of health care. Overall enrollment that year is expected to be nearly 800,000 adults and children in the state.
Michael Booth: 303-954-1686, email@example.com or twitter.com/mboothdp
This story has been corrected in this online archive. Originally, due to incorrect information from a source, the number of adults to be added was wrong. Colorado Medicaid will add 9,250 adults.