Governor Jared Polis released his $40 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-2023 budget proposal on Monday.
In terms of Polis’ health care priorities, his budget includes $530 million over three years to “transform” home and community-based services (HCBS), $550 million in leveraged federal funds to address gaps in behavioral health care, and $400 million toward increasing access to affordable housing.
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“This budget represents Colorado’s next chapter. It’s a guide for how we can capitalize on this once in a lifetime opportunity to address some of our state’s most challenging issues, and create real, transformational change while saving people money and protecting the Colorado way of life.”
Within Polis’ budget, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) receives $13.5 billion — which represents a 2% increase from FY 21-22 — and the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) receives $717 million — which represents a 4.6% increase from FY 21-22.
Saving people money on health care
Polis says Colorado made “critical strides” to make health care more affordable to patients this year through the Colorado Option and the creation of the Prescription Drug Affordability Board. He says this budget aims to build upon that momentum to save people money on health care.
The $530 million towards HCBS includes a minimum wage of $15 per hour for all health care workers and will implement nearly 70 projects and programs to “strengthen and transform care for vulnerable populations that are served by Medicaid’s HCBS program.”
The budget also invests $24 million to innovation to reward high quality care and the use of cost-effective alternative payment models. The budget says this will help improve care for Medicaid members and help control Medicaid spending in the state.
Polis also wants to invest $11 million in the Office of eHealth innovation to help rural health care providers and practitioners access needed technology so they can collect critical data on their members, improve care coordination, and enhance the efficiency of the delivery of care to their patients.
Polis has plans to work with the legislature to allocate $30 million in federal funds to help improve rural health care through stimulating their economies, ensuring sustainability of clinics, and making care more affordable.
The $550 million leveraged federal funds for behavioral health aim to address “structural gaps in behavioral health continuum.” Of those funds, $275 million would come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, according to the state’s ARPA Interim Committee priorities.
Of the ARPA funds, $175 million would go to grants to local communities, $45 million to care integration and payment reform, $35 million to residential facilities for children with complex needs, and $20 million to key workforce investments to build a robust behavioral health system pipeline.
In addition, the budget directs $32.2 million in discretionary federal funds to expand residential options for youth in need of acute behavioral health care. It also includes $10 million to hire 100 staff to operationalize 44 new forensic beds at the Colorado Mental Health Institute.
Affordable housing and homelessness
Polis says the $400 million for increasing access to affordable housing will come from ARPA funding and can be leveraged two or more times.
Some of the key priorities include $100 million to assist in building more affordable housing developments, $25 million for financing energy improvements for affordable housing, $25 million for housing innovation incentives, and $25 million for the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority’s Middle Income Access Program.
Polis also invests $200 million for homelessness response and solutions. These funds will come from the Economic Recovery and Relief fund to reduce homelessness and create competitive matching grants with local and private resources.