“It Sounds Like Chaos.”

When told by CEO Don Hall of Colorado Access about what would happen when 65,000 Colorado Medicaid recipients were transfered from the last Medicaid HMO in the state to fee for service care on August 31, 2006, State Representative Anne McGihon (D-Denver) said: “It sounds like chaos.”, according to the Rocky Mountain News

Joint Budget Committee chairman Rep. Bernie Buescher (D-Grand Junction) worried at yesterday’s hearing that beneficiaries would refrain from seeking preventative care creating “a long term impact” and called the existing system “deeply flawed.”Colorado Access is no longer providing Medicaid HMO care because its reimbursement rate would have been cut by 15% and it was already making a loss.  One point CEO Hall made particularly clear was that some providers might decide to quit accepting Medicaid entirely as a result of the change.  Many already don’t. 

Governor Owen’s representatives at the hearing expressed concern that sole remaining provider Colorado Access was wasting the money it received, and also noted that the 15% reimbursement rate cut the administation sought to impose on Colorado Access was a delayed result of pre-Referendum C TABOR cuts which are the basis from current rates under the Medicaid program under applicable Medicaid formulas.

“The state and federal government will split the $2.3 billion cost of covering 400,000 Coloradans in the coming year,” according to the Denver Post.

No deal was reached at the informational hearing to reinstate Medicaid HMO service and there is no indication that a deal is imminent.  State officials and Colorado Access are currently planning to help patients make a transition out of the HMO plan.

Most Republican legislators on the relevant committees chose not to attend the informational hearing, despite receiving notice of the hearing.

Representative McGihon is unopposed in both the primary and the general election.  Representative Buescher faces one of the toughest races in the state in the general election, but is unopposed in the primary.

Full Disclosure: I practice law with Anne McGihon at McGihon & Associates, a firm that has only the two of us as attorneys.  Special sessions and interim committee hearings make me grumpy, because that means I have to do the lion’s share of the legal work at the office.