Colorado had about 1.3 million residents enrolled in Medicaid at the end of 2016. Medicaid in Colorado covers about 1 in 7 adults younger than 65 years old, 2 in 5 children, 3 in 5 nursing home resident, and 2 in 5 of people with disabilities. Additionally, Colorado has about 25% of its population living at less than 200% of the the Federal Poverty Level and Medicaid covers about half of these individuals.
Given the importance and breadth of tasks this program needs to accomplish, it is just as important that the program is well implemented and cost-efficient. This is where telemedicine can play a large role. It is fairly well known that patients on Medicaid can often have difficulty finding a doctor or clinic willing and able to see them. Since many of the enrollees are elderly and people with disabilities, those very patients who have a hard time getting appointments, may also have a hard time physically getting to appointments if they do get one.
Telemedicine can be a key to improving access to quality, convenient, cost-efficient care for the state. Luckily, Medicaid has provisions that allow for the payment of a telemedicine visit. For Medicaid enrollees, there is no copay for accessing healthcare in this manner. The potential of telehealth has been reaffirmed in a recent Colorado House Bill (CO HB17-1353) that was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper at the end of May.
In this law, it states that “The goals of the Accountable Care Collaborative [Also called the Medicaid Coordinated Care System] are to improve member health and reduce costs in the Medicaid program. To achieve these goals, the state department’s implementation of the Accountable Care Collaborative must include, but need not be limited to:……(g)PROMOTING TELEHEALTH AND TELEMEDICINE;”
On the current trajectory of the state and even the country in regards to laws passed supporting telemedicine, we believe that we are well positioned to be an integral part of the future model of care in the state and the country.