Jan. 13, 2021
I hope everyone had a safe and happy new year! As a reminder, per a special communication from Executive Director Kim Bimestefer in November 2020, the Hospital Transformation Program (HTP) implementation date has been moved to April 1, 2021 as the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues to have major impacts on our communities and hospitals. As always, staff are available if you have questions about HTP program components.  
 
As a reminder, please continue to wear a mask, wash hands and social distance. Additional COVID-19 resources can be found the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing’s (the Department) COVID-19 website

Thank you,

Matt Haynes
Special Finance Projects Manager
A Message from Executive Director Bimestefer
Advocates, Partners and Stakeholders:
 
Good news: Health and Human Services Secretary Azar has formally extended the Public Health Emergency (PHE)The PHE can be extended for up to 90 days at a time. This extension starts Jan. 21, 2021 and would end, unless extended again, on April 20, 2021. We will continue to keep you updated directly and via our Public Health Emergency Planning page. The PHE designation is important as it allows the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (the Department) to extend continuous coverage, maintenance of effort (MOE) and other helpful policies and waivers approved by the federal government. It also provides additional federal funding, which is critical during this economic downturn.
 
The staff and leadership of the Department is filled with hope for 2021! We invite you to stay aligned with many of the Department’s key initiatives intended to support the members we serve, our safety net programs, Colorado families and Colorado employers as well. Together, we can be the change in the world we wish to see and help Coloradans rise and shine through the end of this pandemic.
 
First, we are excited about the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. If you need clarification as to where you and your community are placed in the distribution plan, the graphic below will provide helpful insights. Concurrent with this distribution, we will continue to collaborate with providers and our partners in public health to do our part in managing the COVID-19 pandemic while providing clear messaging to protect the health and well-being of our members and all Coloradans. So, please continue to help us message about the importance of “masking up,” social distancing and following public safety guidance until all Coloradans are vaccinated. 
With the economic downturn, many Coloradans have lost their jobs and, with that, their employer-sponsored health coverage. Accordingly, the Department will continue to connect these individuals and families to affordable health insurance coverage through Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program), Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) and Connect for Health Colorado commercial insurance offerings. Thank you to all the stakeholders who are engaging with us to battle the rising uninsured rate and keep Coloradans covered through this pandemic.
 
On Jan. 7, the Department has its Joint Budget Committee (JBC) Hearing. In one aggregated review, we will address key issues and answer submitted JBC questions on the Department's Office of Community Living, Behavioral Health services and all other topics usually covered in the Executive Director hearing. Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, the Department is covering more Coloradans than ever -- more than 1.4 million, representing almost 1 in every 4 Coloradans. Given that, it is no surprise that the Governor’s budget for 2021-2022 indicates that the Department will consume 29% of the state’s general fund and 35% of total state funds.
 
Given our share of the state’s budget, the state’s fiscal challenges and the continued rising cost of health care, the Department will maintain its focus on health care affordability strategies and initiatives. Our goals are to help protect our programs, cover all Coloradans who need us, efficiently use state resources and lead collaborative efforts with the commercial industry to drive affordability innovations and strategies that also benefit Colorado employers and Colorado families -- we are all battling the same challenges and can produce better results through collaboration. Look for a new Department health care affordability website that includes a toolkit of resources available to help communities control costs to the benefit of Medicaid, CHP+, Colorado families and our employers. Also look for a new Prescription Drug report that outlines the cost drivers and possible solutions to control them.
 
The Department has been and will continue to be an active leader in the Behavioral Health Task Force blueprint and priorities implementation. Related and beginning Jan. 1, HCPF expanded the Medicaid substance use disorder (SUD) benefit to include inpatient and residential treatment. This addition will complete a full continuum of substance use disorder services offered to Medicaid members, enabling the Department to better respond to the increasing overall demand for behavioral health services.
 
COVID-19 has not just increased demands for substance use disorder and behavioral health services; it has also exacerbated pervasive health care disparities. We invite your partnership as the Department identifies and shines a light on opportunities to address and close these disparities with the goal of better serving all Coloradans.
 
Our Department experts will also be engaging with the current and incoming federal administration to manage through the Public Health Emergency, which is currently scheduled to end on Jan. 20. Based on emerging insights, we are confident the PHE will be extended; however, we do not have that in writing yet and are working to secure that assurance. We will also be sharing evolving federal policy priorities emerging from the new administration and their impact to the Department, our programs, our members and all Coloradans. Look for more communications on that opportunity in the coming months.
 
Through this unique chapter and this calendar year, Department staff and leadership will continue to leverage our strengths, health care expertise and insights to the benefit of those we serve and all Coloradans. There is a bright light on the horizon with the vaccine now in the distribution stage. We are grateful to have your partnership on all the above work toward a better, hope-filled tomorrow. Rise and shine, Colorado! Rise and shine!
 
Kim Bimestefer
Executive Director
Rural Support Payment Update
At the Dec. 15, 2020 Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise (CHASE) Board meeting, board members provided input and voted to approve the HTP Rural Support Payment framework and timeline.  
 
On Dec. 3, 2020, a list of qualified hospitals was shared with program participants and stakeholders. Approval from the CHASE Board marks the beginning of the attestation process for qualified hospitals, with a due date of Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. The Provider Attestation Form, along with additional information about the Rural Support Payment, can be found in the Rural Support Payment section of the HTP website. Funds are expected to become available in Spring 2021. Please direct additional questions to the dedication Rural Support Payment inbox
Program Updates
As we continue to move closer to HTP implementation, updated documents have been posted to the HTP website:
 
Please direct any questions about these updated documents to the HTP inbox.
Community Advisory Council
Community Advisory Council meetings continue to take place on a monthly basis with the next meeting taking place on Monday, Jan. 25. The agenda, meeting materials and previous meeting notes can be found on the Community Advisory Council website.  
Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise (CHASE) Board meeting
 The next Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise (CHASE) Board meeting will take place via webinar on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. Additional information about the board, as well as meeting materials, can be found on the CHASE Board website.
Helpful Links & Program Contact