Joint Budget Committee to consider health supplemental requests

The state’s Joint Budget Committee meets Thursday Jan. 16 to consider supplemental requests to the state budget proposals this session. In the Jan. 16 meeting, the committee will discuss supplemental requests from the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing related to medical service premiums, the indigent care program and other medical services. The committee is also expected to consider supplemental requests from the Department of Education on Jan. 16. These supplemental requests, according to the Joint Budget Committee staff page, considers department requests for budget appropriations each January for the fiscal year. Analysts with the joint budget committee review the requests before making recommendations on appropriations to the joint budget committee. Governor Jared Polis’s state budget proposal released in November includes the continuation of the state’s reinsurance program, vastly lowered insurance premiums on the individual market and millions of dollars in funding to combat substance abuse disorders and the state’s opioid epidemic, in addition to a push to develop a prescriber tool that would lower the cost of prescription drugs in the state. 

Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.

This facet of the governor’s budget proposal states the individual market will see lowered premiums by 20 percent this year because of reinsurance. A presentation reflecting the governor’s budget request states the lowered premiums will save  hundreds of dollars a month for individual policyholders.

The cost of the reinsurance program will be subsidized by a Section 1332 innovation waiver from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, as well as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, lowering the expenditure of state revenues to pay for high-cost insurance claims. The reinsurance program will reduce the cost of claims by 15 to 35 percent, depending on the region, and establish payment parameters for insurance companies. 

The waiver, which the state applied for last May, was granted in July 2019 by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The federal government also awarded the state $15 million to combat the opioid crisis in Colorado, part of an expected $87 million budget item to reduce substance abuse disorder. That $87 million price tag is part of a “first-time benefit,” according to the governor’s budget presentation.

Another facet of the governor’s budget proposal include mention of a new pharmaceutical prescription tool that would enable physicians to, as the proposal puts it, “make better and more cost-effective prescribing decisions.” The move is projected to save millions of dollars in Medicaid costs, according to the governor’s 2020-21 budget request, and is part of an effort to pass further drug legislation and control consumer spending on pharmaceuticals.