Community Insights: La Plata County Public Health Department

April 22, 2024

Amidst the COVID-19 aftermath, Medicaid unwinding poses a critical healthcare challenge. La Plata County Public Health aids residents in navigating this transition, ensuring equitable access to healthcare options. Despite an extension, misconceptions persist, potentially impacting millions nationwide. Through collaboration with the Department of Human Services, smooth transitions to alternative coverage options are facilitated, offering personalized assistance and translation services to all residents. By Sadie Smith. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank.

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Hi, I'm Eric Eicher, employee-owner and president of Alpine Bank Durango. At Alpine Bank, we believe in the power of community and connecting you with the resources you need to work, live, and play in our community. I hope you enjoy this edition of Community Insights.

As the nation navigates the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, a crucial aspect emerges in the healthcare landscape, Medicaid unwinding. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Medicaid provided essential healthcare throughout the pandemic. Now, as the public health emergency subsides, states face the challenge of winding down this continuous coverage. This makes a pivotal moment in healthcare access for many Americans as we transition beyond the pandemic. La Plata County Public Health Department's Health Insurance Literacy program plays a crucial role in assisting residents with understanding and navigating these changes, ensuring equitable access to healthcare options.

Continuous Medicaid is something that happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, where those who were on Medicaid were kept on Medicaid for the entire time. So, whether or not you were determined ineligible due to income requirements or anything like that, you were still kept on Medicaid, and that was the determination, to keep people covered during a pandemic.

The states could begin completing the eligibility determinations in April, with the transition expected to end July 31st. The deadline has recently been extended to November 30th of this year. There have been many misconceptions with the coverage as a result of the process.

A lot of misconceptions regarding Medicaid and alternative coverage is you might not think that you're actually eligible and you are. There are a lot of people in our area who are self-employed who may qualify for Medicaid and never knew it and could save those costs for your individual health. Another misconception is that you might not be able to be eligible for tax credits, which helps lower your monthly payments of insurance, and those income limits have increased over the years, especially during the pandemic.

As states begin to phase out the continuous enrollment provision, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation Survey estimates approximately 17 million people nationwide could lose their Medicaid coverage. This includes individuals who are no longer eligible and individuals who still qualify, but encounter administrative obstacles when attempting to renew their coverage. Staying informed during this transition helps avoid coverage gaps.

Some challenges that I feel that community members will have transitioning off of Medicaid will be knowing where to go next, and that's something we can help with. And another portion is Medicaid is lovely in the fact that you don't have to meet deductibles, out of pocket maximums, or work with private insurers, and that's going to be a huge learning curve if you're coming from a place where you're not paying anything to all of a sudden paying a monthly cost or trying to meet a deductible in order for insurance to kick in. So, that education piece we can help with alongside of enrollment into an alternative plan.

LPCPHD collaborates with the Department of Human Services to facilitate its Health Insurance Literacy program. Through this partnership, individuals informed of their Medicaid ineligibility by the Department of Human Services are directed to LPCPHD's program. The referral system enables a smooth transition, ensuring individuals receive the necessary assistance to access healthcare services.

The Health Insurance Literacy program at La Plata County Public Health helps people navigate off of Medicaid by listening to your situation. Every family and every individual is unique, and by sitting and listening to what your needs are and what you are encountering at this time will help us determine your eligibility for other programs that might help save you in a lot of medical and mental behavioral costs.

Expanded health coverage options in Colorado now benefit all residents, including undocumented individuals. LPCPHD's Health Insurance Literacy program provides translation services and personalized assistance with healthcare coverage transitions. LPCPHD is here to help you navigate your options and ensure you have access to the care you need. We're proud to present Community Insights, powered by the Local News Network and sponsored by Alpine Bank. With Community Insights, our mission is to foster a stronger and more connected community in La Plata County and beyond. For more information about this and other stories, visit Thank you for watching this edition of Community Insights. I'm Sadie Smith.


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