DENVER (AP) — Colorado activists want the federal government to fund more of the state's Medicaid program ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Several health care groups Thursday called on U.S. senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to seek additional federal funding for Medicaid, a federal-state program for low-income and disabled Americans.
Congress increased the federal share of Medicaid spending by 6.2% to roughly 56% in Colorado in March under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The groups say more is needed. By December 2020, state Medicaid enrollment is expected to grow 42% due to the virus-induced economic downturn, according to the nonprofit Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.
Currently, more than 1.2 million Coloradans or about one in five residents depend on Medicaid, a roughly $9 billion program known in the state as Health First Colorado. One in three individuals with disabilities are covered by Medicaid in the state, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Colorado Consumer Health Initiative spokesman Adam Fox said Thursday the groups want the federal government to fund 64% of the state's Medicaid program.
Robin Bolduc, 62 from Boulder, is the main caregiver for her husband, Bruce Goguen, 67, a quadriplegic who uses a ventilator to breathe. Medicaid pays for her husband's long-term services including caregivers who help feed and bathe him.
“In our case it’s the difference between life and death. The difference between my husband being able to live in his community, to be a part of our family, to be my husband," Bolduc said Thursday at the press conference.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is set to unveil the GOP’s new aid package next week, which will include federal dollars to supplement state Medicaid funding. That plan is a counteroffer to a sweeping $3 trillion proposal that House Democrats approved in May.
In July 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was designed to protect those with disabilities against discrimination and to ensure employment opportunities, state and local government services and public accommodations like transportation.
This story has been corrected to state that the consumer health group wants the federal government to fund 64% of Medicaid in Colorado, not 70%.
Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.