5 Things Colorado: Health funding in the budget, ‘Abortion tourism’ in Colorado, BHA bill


Eli Kirshbaum


I’d like to introduce you all to Boram Kim, State of Reform’s new reporter for Colorado! Boram has been doing some great coverage of the Colorado market over the past few weeks and we’re thrilled to have him with us. Don’t hesitate to reach out to him with story ideas, feedback, or if you’d just like to connect!

Thanks for reading!

Eli Kirshbaum 
State of Reform


1. 33.4% increase to HCPF budget for FY 22-23

Total funding for HCPF in the almost-finalized state budget is 33.4% higher than it was last fiscal year at $14.18 billion total ($4.07 billion GF). The agency’s budget represents both the largest GF funding increase and the largest total allocation for any agency, making up 41.5% of the total state budget (26.8% of all GF dollars).

The significant investment in the state’s Medicaid agency will go to areas including premiums for medical services ($10.5 billion TF), behavioral health community programs ($1.13 billion TF), and the Office of Community Living ($976.16 million TF). A detailed funding breakdown for the department can be viewed here. The House and Senate are currently hashing out disagreements over amendments to the state’s budget via conference committee.


2. ‘Abortion tourism’ surge worries Colorado abortion providers

Governor Jared Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act into law earlier this month, statutorily guaranteeing an individual’s right to receive an abortion in the state—even in the event of a Roe. v. Wade overturn. This move stands in stark contrast to some of Colorado’s neighboring states, including Texas and Oklahoma, who have recently passed severe abortion restrictions.

Local abortion providers are experiencing a consequent surge in out-of-state individuals coming to Colorado to seek abortions. With the state’s newly codified abortion protections, local abortion providers are anticipating this influx to continue as individuals in conservative states seeking abortion turn to nearby pro-choice states like Colorado. Dr. Kristina Tocce of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains told State of Reform that this flow of new patients raises supply and demand concerns for already-under-resourced abortion clinics.


3. BHA bill moves closer to passage

House Bill 1278—the legislation outlining the structure and responsibilities of the state’s new Behavioral Health Administration—passed the House floor Tuesday with a 46-15 vote. Now headed to the Senate, the bill details the administration’s duties based off of the six “pillars” of reform established by the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force.

By 2024, the bill requires the administration to create a statewide behavioral health grievance system, a behavioral health performance monitoring system, and a BHA advisory council. Dr. Morgan Medlock, the Commissioner of the new administration, said during a recent webinar: “Our vision is really to create a brand that is focused on people. And so we are moving to a vision of putting people first by developing a unified strategy for the state that includes a cohesive vision even across state agencies.”

4. Lawmakers look to fund health workforce

Several initiatives that would support the health care workforce are making their way through the legislature. House Bill 1350, sponsored by Rep. Julie McCluskie, would create a $90 million grant program of federal and local funds to fund regional talent development. The legislation is intended to bolster the workforce in professions still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, including “critical workforce areas” such as health care.

HB 1349, sponsored by Rep. Monica Duran, aims to improve the success rate of students in post-secondary education by requiring the Department of Education to develop student metrics to evaluate student progression through post-secondary education. Senate Bill 192, sponsored by Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, directs the department to create a credentialing system to “identify incremental achievements on the path to degree completion” in hopes of increasing the rate of higher education completion in struggling sectors.

5. HCPF implements VBC contracts for two Medicaid drugs

Late last month, HCPF entered contracts with Novartis Pharmaceuticals to manufacture two different drugs: Zolgensma, a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, and Entresto, a treatment for heart failure. The Zolgensma contract allows HCPF to recoup a portion of the drug’s price if it fails to meet defined clinical health outcomes. The Entresto contract requires Novartis to provide additional rebates to HCPF if hospitalizations aren’t reduced by 20% among Colorado Medicaid members over an unspecified period of time.

The value based contracts, according to HCPF, are intended to guarantee these medications remain affordable for the Medicaid-covered Coloradans who need them. In a statement about the new contracts, HCPF Executive Director Kim Bimestefer said: “Such contracts also help us hold providers and partners like drug manufacturers financially accountable for the better results we want from them going forward.”