Study estimates cost to expand Medicaid
State policy makers are discussing whether or not to expand Medicaid coverage to more people in Colorado because the federal government is offering new funds to help pay for it. The issue is part of federal health-care reform - the Affordable Care Act approved in 2010.
Federal funds of about $11.4 billion would pay for new Medicaid coverage in Colorado, according to the study, which was funded by The Colorado Trust, a nonprofit foundation based in Denver, and announced in a press release. County-specific information was not available in the study.
In the past, a state agency estimated that Medicaid expansion would save more than it costs, since preventive treatment for uninsured, low-income people generally costs less than emergency treatment, according to the press release. Some 51.7 percent of newly eligible Medicaid participants would be low-income people who currently are uninsured and have no dependent children, according to the study.
A hospital provider fee created by the Colorado Health Care Affordability Act would pay to expand the state's portion of the Medicaid coverage. The law, passed in 2009, was designed to reduce costs of uncompensated care to hospitals and expand health-care coverage to Colorado residents who don't have it.
"We know there are economic benefits to be realized by lowering the level of uncompensated health care and by building a healthier workforce," Ned Calonge, chief executive of The Colorado Trust, said in the press release.
"This analysis ... provides a growing base of information to help Colorado lawmakers make an evidence-based decision about Medicaid that is best for Colorado and its residents."
"Medicaid Expansion in Colorado: Understanding the Costs & Benefits" is available online at www.coloradotrust.org. It includes previous information and findings from the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.
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