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April 18, 2023

McCluskie Bill to Increase Affordable Health Care Passes House Committee

DENVER, CO - The House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services today unanimously passed a bipartisan bill by a vote of 11-0 to expand access to community health services through Medicaid reimbursement.

“Community Health Workers, like patient navigators and Promotores de salud, are critical to reducing health disparities in rural communities by connecting patients to critically needed preventative, primary and behavioral health services,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “Improving patient access to community health workers and preventative care mitigates costly, life-threatening and preventable diseases to keep Coloradans healthy and alive. This legislation bolsters Colorado’s health care workforce capacity to save people money on care and increase access to the services they need in the communities they call home.”

SB23-002, also sponsored by Representative Mary Bradfield, would save money on health care by providing a lower cost option for preventative health care and seeks Medicaid reimbursement for community health workers that would incentivize growth in the workforce. The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) would be authorized to seek federal authorization from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide Medicaid reimbursement for community health worker services, which would secure long-term funding to make urgently-needed care both easier to access and more affordable for the Coloradans who depend on it.

Services provided by community health workers include preventative services, screening, assessments, behavioral or dental health-related services, health coaching, and advocacy. The bill requires HCPF to seek federal approval by July 1, 2024, and to begin implementing coverage once approval is received.

The committee also passed SB23-031, sponsored by Representatives Brianna Titone and Mandy Lindsay, to expand opportunities for clinical health professions and graduate students enrolled in participating Colorado institutions of higher education through training at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus to better support multidisciplinary health care for aging Coloradans . This training would expand geriatric health care services and work to increase the workforce of specialty providers for older Coloradans across the state. SB23-031 passed by a vote of 11-0.

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