Legislation would allow children in the child welfare system to more easily access health care close to home

DENVER, CO– The House committee on Public Health Care and Human Services today passed Representative Mary Young’s bill to codify the practice of keeping children in the child welfare and juvenile justice system in the Medicaid regional entity where they were originally placed. This will shorten delays in getting these children and youth the behavioral and physical health services that they need near where they are living. The committee approved the bill unanimously.

“Managing the Medicaid and child welfare systems is complicated enough– I’m proud to work to simplify these systems and deliver better behavioral and physical health care outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children,” said Rep. Young, D-Greeley. “A simple codification in statute will go a long way towards preventing coverage lapses and improving care for some of our most vulnerable groups.”

Many children in the child welfare system rely on Medicaid for physical and behavioral health services. Once enrolled into Medicaid, these children are assigned to a Regional Accountability Entity (RAE) based on the physical location of the child’s primary care physician. Many children are enrolled in Medicaid prior to their involvement with child welfare and juvenile justice. However, if the child is later placed by the child welfare or juvenile system in a different county, a common occurrence with high need children, the child may change to a new primary care physician. If the primary care physician is in a different RAE, sometimes the child’s RAE changes which can result in delays in getting services to the child that were already approved under the former RAE.

HB20-1237 codifies the state’s intended policy to keep children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems  in the RAE in which they were originally enrolled. Given the relative infancy of the RAEs, there was confusion that led to counties being encouraged to switch RAEs when the child’s placement changed. HB20-1237 clears up this confusion for counties, RAEs and providers so that vulnerable children maintain services and do not risk delays in receiving services. 

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