Feb. 18, 2021
General Assembly Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on what's new at the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing with our newsletter created specifically for the Colorado General Assembly.
Editor's Note
This newsletter is published monthly while the legislature is in session, and quarterly outside of the legislative session. The next edition will be published in March 2021.   
Please continue to direct any questions or constituent issues to the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing's (the Department) legislative team: 

A Message from Executive Director Kim Bimestefer 
The new year has already been full of informative events and exciting new developments!  
We presented our $12.3 billion 2021-2022 fiscal year proposed budget at the Joint Budget Committee hearing last month, presented to the Senate Health & Human Services and House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services committees as part of the SMART Act requirements, and released our 2019-20 Annual Report. The annual report illustrates the many ways we serve Coloradans each and every day, including videos in our members’ own words. We invite you to review it and celebrate all that we accomplished together this past year.  
Vaccines are now rolling out to those over 65 years of age. We appreciate your help reaching the one in four Coloradans who are Health First Colorado members to ensure they are able to get their vaccine when it’s their turn. Of course, members will not be charged a co-pay for the vaccine or for their ride to and from their appointments. We also recently communicated to providers the amount that Medicaid will pay for the administration of the first and second doses. As the vaccine rolls out, please continue to follow public health protocols by washing your hands, wearing your masks and maintaining 6-feet of physical distance from those outside your households, and please help us lead others in doing the same.  
Since the start of the pandemic, the number of Coloradans we serve has grown by more than 175,000 people. This growth is now projected to continue rather consistently all year, with the “likely extension of the Public Health Emergency” (PHE) through the end of 2021, as recently communicated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this same spirit, and in alignment with the federal government opening the federal exchanges,  Connect for Health Colorado, our state exchange, is also holding a special enrollment period from Feb. 8 - May 15. Together, our efforts are connecting Coloradans to affordable coverage, especially those who have lost their jobs during this economic downturn. Thank you for your partnership on this important work. We are here for Colorado
On the affordability front, we hosted the Health Cabinet Health Policy Summit virtual conference, which included five remarkable sessions and over 1,850 registrants. Agency leads, state and national experts discussed initiatives to reform our behavioral health system, get Coloradans vaccinated, help employers control their health care costs, support rural hospitals, improve the effectiveness of hospital community investments, and reduce prescription drug costs. This latter topic included a review and discussion of the top recommendations within the Department’s newly released and updated prescription drug report. In support of one of the recommendations in that report, the Department released an Invitation to Negotiate on drug importation, inviting domestic and foreign partners to help us import drugs from Canada, which will drive savings of over 60% on importable drugs. As part of the Summit, we also launched a new affordability webpage with tools to help communities address the many factors that contribute to rising health care costs. 
In partnership with the Colorado Hospital Association, the Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise (CHASE) legislative report demonstrates some of the ways we are innovatively addressing costs by collecting a hospital provider fee. We invite you to review this report to learn how we disbursed $393 million in increased reimbursement to hospital providers, reduced uncompensated care costs and the need to shift those costs to other payers, while expanding coverage to an additional 502,000 Coloradans and providing $114 million in relief to the state’s General Fund. 
We look forward to collaborating with you on many other initiatives this year to help us serve our growing membership while saving Coloradans money on health care. As always, we are deeply grateful for your partnership! 
HCPF 2021 Legislative Agenda
A brief overview of the Department’s legislative agenda can be found on the Department’s website. This year, our agenda bills focus on:
  • Telemedicine Policy Refinements.
  • Case Management Redesign.
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities: Demonstration of Need and Technical Changes.
  • Add Remote Supports to Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Programs.
  • Expand Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program.
HCPF FY 2021-22 Budget Agenda
A summary of the Department's discretionary budget requests submitted for consideration to the Colorado General Assembly, as part of the Governor's Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22 budget, is now posted on our website. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget requests focus on addressing the state’s current budget shortfall while still prioritizing and protecting member benefits and services given budget constraints.
HCPF SMART Act Hearing
The Department recently presented to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the House Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee in our annual SMART Act hearing. Presentation materials can be found on the Legislator Resource Center page.
New HCPF Mission!
After engagement from staff, providers and members, HCPF recently made a change to our Department mission.
The new HCPF mission:
Improving health care equity, access and outcomes for the people we serve, while saving Coloradans money on health care and driving value for Colorado.
The new mission was created to increase focus on members and inclusive access. We will be updating our Department website and resources soon.
Feds Announce New Open Enrollment Period
Last week, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order re-opening enrollment of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. While the order pertains to states that use the federal exchange (healthcare.gov), Colorado’s exchange (Connect for Health Colorado) will mirror the order by also re-opening enrollment. In fact, Coloradans without health insurance will be able to enroll in coverage through ConnectforHealthCO.com between Feb. 8 - May 15, 2021. This special enrollment period is for people who are without health insurance and begins a week earlier than the federal exchange.
Re-opening the exchanges is an effort to help uninsured Coloradans connect to affordable coverage - especially those who have lost their jobs during this economic downturn. Given the work we have done with stakeholders to accomplish this shared goal, we want to maximize this special open enrollment opportunity to connect Coloradans who are eligible to our safety net programs, as well.
In that spirit, concurrent to this special enrollment period, we would appreciate your communication out to your network of contacts about this special open enrollment period, as well as our Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) coverage programs. Due to COVID-19, our county partners have asked that communications refer applicants to our PEAK online tools. We have created a variety of materials you can use for outreach on our Here for You, Colorado website, including this helpful enrollment tool (also available in Spanish). Income eligibility information can be found here, as well.
Thank you for your ongoing collaboration and partnership in serving our members and keeping Coloradans covered during this pandemic. 
Colorado Releases Solicitation to Import Prescription Drugs from Canada
The Department released an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN), soliciting multiple vendors to help operationalize Colorado’s Canadian Drug Importation Program including aspects such as compliance, safety and prescription drug distribution.

In 2019, the Legislature passed SB19-005, which authorized the Department to seek approval from the federal government to establish an importation program that will provide access to Canada’s lower priced drugs to Colorado employers and consumers.

The state’s ITN includes several options for the industry to partner with the state on this impactful program. HCPF estimates savings of more than 60% off the prices of importable prescription drugs.

For more information, read the press release and visit our Importation Program webpage.
Remote Application Assistance During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, counties, Medical Assistance (MA) sites, Presumptive Eligibility (PE) sites, and Certified Application Assistance sites (CAAS) will be authorized to assist individuals applying for Medical Assistance remotely (telephone, video conferencing, etc.) upon receipt of verbal consent. The authorization of verbal consent will expire at the end of the Public Health Emergency. Normal policies and procedures will resume when the federal emergency period ends. The Department has released a Memo: Remote Application Assistance for more guidance.

For more information, read the related Policy Memo.
HCPF Submits New Reports & LRFIs to the General Assembly 
HCPF submitted new reports and LRFIs to the General Assembly since the last newsletter, all are on the Legislator Resource Center page: 
Medicaid Snapshot and County-by-County Resources 
These county fact sheets provide an annual snapshot by fiscal year for Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid Program) activityincluding average annual caseload and top five claim types for each county.  
Legislator Resource Center 
TheLegislator Resource Centeron our website is available to help legislators and legislative staff easily find information. It includes links to reports, fact sheets and overviews of the budget process to help inform legislators. 
Follow HCPF on Social Media
We invite legislators to follow us on social media to stay informed of news and happenings at the Department. You can follow us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.