Coloradans Are Contesting Loss of Medicaid Benefits for Disabled

According to a report by The Colorado Sun news outlet, many families of people with disabilities in Colorado are being told, erroneously, they are no longer eligible for services paid by Medicaid (called Health First Colorado). Critics are saying these aid cut-offs are mistakes due in large part to technology transitions being made by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which houses the state Medicaid program. Another factor is said to be the simultaneous efforts to renew people’s eligibility while the Medicaid program is also revamping its case management system. This convergence of factors, critics say, is causing people to “fall through the cracks.” The benefit suspensions and overall confusion have led to a federal complaint being filed against the state Medicaid program, alleging in particular that the rights of disabled people are being violated. The complaint includes an allegation that delays and convoluted policies have plagued Colorado Medicaid for years, and Colorado Medicaid is failing to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The complaint was filed by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and the National Health Law Program. Part of the problem, besides the technology transition, is that the caseload for determining who is eligible for benefits has ballooned since such determinations resumed in 2023 following a three-year pause when they were not required during the coronavirus pandemic. Another allegation is that in too many cases, the state’s computer program is making errors by not connecting all required eligibility documents and then kicking a beneficiary off. State Medicaid officials were quoted as saying they “take seriously the concerns and [are] committed to ensuring members receive the services for which they qualify.” The Sun quoted Katherine Wallat of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy as saying: “We need to pause those procedural terminations so that, to put it bluntly, people aren’t harmed and people don’t die because they’ve lost access to life-saving Medicaid coverage.”

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