Colorado boosts health care spending in state budget proposal


Boram Kim


In November, Governor Jared Polis outlined “healthy and safe communities” as one of the four key elements to economic recovery in his FY 2022-23 budget request to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC).

Based on those requests, Colorado is currently finalizing a historic $36.5 billion state budget with significant allocation for health care spending. Health care has been a key focus for lawmakers as officials address the lingering effects of the pandemic by bolstering the state’s public health and mental health care systems.


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The JBC has appropriated $17.6 billion in total funds to health care related spending for the coming fiscal year. 

The appropriation includes $156.8 million in general funds ($756.28 million total) to the Department of Public Health and Environment, a 70.2% increase from last year. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has been allocated $1.13 billion in general funds ($2.63 billion total), a 2.7% increase from the previous cycle. 

The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) will receive $1 billion more in general funding than last year, a 33.4% increase. This represents the largest dollar increase among all departments, for a total general fund allocation of $4.07 billion.


HCPF Budget
Source: Colorado Legislative Council


Funding for HCPF, as in previous years, makes up the largest portion of the total state operating budget at 41.5% (26.8% of the general fund budget), or $14.18 billion.


Budget Breakdown
Source: Colorado Legislative Council


Total fund appropriations in the department budget include:

  • Medical Services Premiums ($10.5 billion)
  • Behavioral Health Community Programs  ($1.13 billion)
  • Office of Community Living ($976.16 million)
  • Executive Director’s Office ($499.6 million)
  • Other Medical Services ($494.7 million)
  • Indigent Care Program ($468.7 million)
  • Department of Human Services Medicaid ($127.6 million)

Under House Bill 1275, $3.8 million from DHS’s budget will be allocated to create the Behavioral Health Administration, which will manage the state’s behavioral health care delivery system. 

Statewide medical staffing shortages at hospitals and nursing homes created a health emergency at peak periods during the pandemic. Increased investments in higher education ($5.4 billion) and workforce ($311 million) are also outlined in the total budget to bolster staffing and emergency response for future public health threats.