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Colorado extends low-income health program imperiled by Congress

Author: Jakob Rodgers, The Gazette - December 21, 2017 - Updated: January 31, 2018

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee during a hearing to discuses ways to stabilize health insurance markets​ on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee during a hearing to discuses ways to stabilize health insurance markets​ on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

State lawmakers on Thursday extended an imperiled health insurance program that serves thousands of children and mothers in low-income families across the state.

The Joint Budget Committee approved funding to continue the Child Health Plan Plus, or CHP+, an extra month through Feb. 28, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office announced.

Money from the Children’s Basic Health Plan Trust, which was created from the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement, will be used to keep the program going that extra month.

Hickenlooper made the extension request after Congress failed to reauthorize the program in September – leaving states scrambling to keep their programs going as long as possible before federal funding runs out.

Colorado’s program was expected to end on Jan. 31, and its leaders recently urged enrollees to seek other coverage in case lawmakers on Capitol Hill don’t act in time.

The program offers health coverage to children, pregnant women and new mothers whose household incomes are under 260 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s about $42,200 for a family of two and about $64,000 for a family of four.

It covers 7,268 children and mothers in El Paso County, and 75,334 people across the state.

Jakob Rodgers, The Gazette

Jakob Rodgers, The Gazette