Two new Medicaid programs are offered in Garfield County

One has limited enrollment with a May 15 deadline

April 18, 2012

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Two new Medicaid programs are available to Garfield County residents through the county’s Department of Human Services; but mild early interest indicates word may not have reached those who need to access the programs.

The Adults without Dependent Children (AwDC) expansion presents the chance for a limited number of previously unqualified individuals to benefit from Medicaid. The other new program, Medicaid Buy-in Program for Working Adults with Disabilities, offers assistance for disabled wage earners to buy into Medicaid.

Only a very small number of people have applied for the new Medicaid coverage locally since the programs were announced in the past few weeks by the State of Colorado. “We have three on the waiting list for the AwDC program, and we have received six applications for the Medicaid Buy-in,” said Tricia Murray, eligibility manager for Garfield County Department of Human Services. “I think as more people become aware, we will see more applications coming in. Those are really small numbers when you look at our family Medicaid caseload of 2,447 cases.”

The Adults without Dependent Children program is limited to only 1700 people in western Colorado (one of 7 regions statewide), due to budgetary constraints. Timing is critical for people to apply for this program, because applications made before May 15, 2012 will be placed into an upcoming lottery for the 1700 positions. Then, any AwDC eligible client cases that are processed after May 15 will be on the wait list with the non-selected AwDC eligible client cases processed as of April 1 through May 15. – Health Care Policy and Finance, 2012, Adults without Dependent Children (AWDC) manual.

The AwDC program is funded by a hospital provider fee and matching federal funds, and uses no general funds, according to state information on the program. The AwDC program is designed for adults aged 19 to 64 who are not eligible for other Medicaid programs or Medicare. The program is capped at 10,000 clients statewide, whose income is approximately 10% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is about $90 per month for a single adult. That means people cannot make more than approximately $180 a month, but assets are not a factor; the limit is purely income-related.

A Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing press release states that the Medicaid Buy-in allows eligible adults with disabilities to work, or increase their hours, and still access Medicaid benefits by paying a monthly premium based on their incomes. The Adult Buy-In is a federally authorized program that has been adopted in 44 other states. The program is funded by a hospital provider fee and federal matching funds and uses no Colorado general funds.

The Medicaid Buy-in program is purely based on income levels, not assets. “The income level for this program is higher than other Medicaid programs,” said Murray. “It allows 450% of the Federal Poverty Level. In the past in our area, earnings were higher than other areas of the state, so people here didn’t qualify for Medicaid programs. But this program may be a real benefit to some of our residents.”

Garfield County’s website features information on these programs with links to the State of Colorado website and state press releases.