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March 5, 2024

Bill Increases Federal Funds for Nutrition and Housing Support

DENVER, CO – The House Health and Human Services Committee today passed legislation to help fund housing and nutrition services for those on Medicaid. This cost-neutral plan would lay the groundwork for redirecting federal Medicaid funds to help Colorado families access nutritious food options and secure housing.  

“Everyone deserves access to healthy, nutritious food and a roof over their heads,” said Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster. “This bill would bring down additional federal funds to help with rental assistance, pantry stocking, housing and nutrition support that will strengthen our communities. Our legislation is a step forward to help and uplift our most vulnerable neighbors, such as youth transitioning out of foster care or older adults seeking nutrition assistance.” 

“By providing housing and nutrition support for Coloradans who need it the most, we can meet the diverse needs of our state and uplift families,” said Rep. Kyle Brown, D-Louisville. “This bill allows Colorado to access Medicaid funding for housing and nutrition programs for existing Medicaid patients. For example, Medicaid funding could be used to help someone afford their rent or put food on the table. This bill would save Coloradans money by taking advantage of federal dollars and help ensure our most vulnerable communities are supported.” 

HB24-1322, which passed committee by a vote of 8-4, would support Coloradans on Medicaid to afford housing and nutritious meals. Specifically, this bill would direct the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF) to conduct a feasibility study and pursue an 1115 Waiver so Medicaid could fund housing and nutrition services. This legislation aims to create a path to redirect Medicaid funding for services that address health-related social needs of Coloradans who already rely on the federal Medicaid program.

The feasibility study would determine how Medicaid could pay for specific nutrition-based services such as medically tailored meals and pantry stocking. It could also help with temporary housing, rent, utility assistance, as well as eviction prevention and tenant support. The study would also determine the eligibility requirements to access these services and which populations across the state would benefit the most. 

Utilizing dollars already spent on housing and nutrition support services through an 1115 Medicaid Waiver would provide Colorado with a federal match and the flexibility to design and improve Medicaid programs to fit the needs of Coloradans. It would also help the state conserve local and state financial resources. 

This cost-neutral model for redirecting Medicaid funds to housing and nutrition support is successfully being used in more than 15 states across the nation, including Arkansas, California, New Jersey and North Carolina.

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