Colorado’s Medicaid expenditures projected at $897 million for 2020-21

Colorado’s Medicaid system could see increased state and federally-funded medical services premiums spike to $897 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year from $208 million.

The medical services premium totals are paid through a combination of state and federal funds, Chief Legislative Analyst Eric Kurtz said, with the federal government increasing their percent paid by 6.2% for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency declaration. 


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In July 2020, Kurtz said there was over $700 million in medical services premium funds for Medicaid because of the increase enrollment numbers.

However, Kurtz said COVID-19 actually decreased the fiscal year 2019-20 Medicaid expenditures by $14.9 million to $208 million due to a combination of increased enrollment, emergency spending authorized by the governor, and decreased utilization due to stay-at-home orders. 

Of the $208 million total cost, a combination of total enrollment costs and reduced utilization cost led to a significant decrease in the overall budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

According to the revised staff budget balancing document for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 fiscal year budgets, the current fiscal year’s budget shows total enrollment costs of $62 million but with $110 million reduced from the budget from utilization reductions, causing the $14.9 million decrease. 

“At the same time, we expect COVID-19 will increase Fiscal Year 2020-21 expenditures to $897 million total funds due to the cost of increased enrollment offsetting decreased utilization,” he said. 

For the projected 2020-21 fiscal year budget, enrollment costs are anticipated at $980 million, with only $83 million being reduced due to utilization reductions for a total of $897 million.

Because this number is not set in stone, Kurtz said, there are different projections on whether there will be a significant increase in enrollments during the 2020-21 fiscal year, but currently this is the projection Colorado is anticipating.

Marc Williams, public information officer for Health First Colorado agreed that the continued status of Colorado’s economy will determine if they will see another large wave of enrollments in Medicaid.

In fact, he said at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 Health First Colorado saw decreases in new enrollees before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state.

Williams said this number may change based on new information, but currently those 425,000 anticipated new enrollees are anticipated between July 1 and June 30 of the 2021 fiscal year. 

Not including August 2020 enrollments, Health First Colorado has 1,297,424 people currently enrolled to receive Medicaid benefits, which is just under an 80,000 increase from June 2020. 

Part of the reason the current enrollment is so high is because the Families First Coronavirus Response Act put a freeze on all Medicaid disenrollments.

Williams said if the public emergency order ends in October as is currently planned, they will begin the process of re-determining eligibility and disenrolling those who no longer qualify.