Washington D.C. Trip and Reflections

Making strides in increasing access and affordability

To Our Valued Stakeholders,

During the last few days in April, I visited Washington D.C. for an event organized by the National Academy for State Health Policy. I was one of 19 directors of state-based marketplaces invited to visit with the White House. We received a strong show of support when we arrived. We met with the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, members of the Domestic Policy Council, and leadership from the department that oversees our work: the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO). We also had the opportunity to meet with both the Republican and Democratic committees and leadership staff.

I was honored to share with our federal partners directly how much we appreciated their support for the enhanced premium tax credits as well as the regulatory changes that have increased access and affordability. We also discussed the value of state-based marketplaces, our wins, highlights of Open Enrollment, populations we’re reaching during the Medicaid Unwind, and the health equity initiatives we’re launching. I was pleased to share how Colorado has been on the forefront of using Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs) to get folks covered, leveraging ICHRAs with our exchange employees while our brokers use ICHRAs to help get people enrolled in rural counties.

We also shared our concerns. The biggest one being that the enhanced subsidies provided by the federal government are set to go away after Dec. 31, 2025. These enhanced premium tax credits have been in place since 2021 and have made coverage significantly more affordable. For example, this year, with financial help applied, 60 percent of our customers could find a plan for $10 or less per month. I’m doing everything I can to illustrate to our federal partners that if these enhanced subsidies end, people who rely on marketplaces like Connect for Health Colorado to obtain health insurance will be at risk of losing financial help or no longer being able to afford their coverage.

As I departed our nation’s capital, I felt immense gratitude for the opportunity to collaborate with other state-based marketplace directors and our federal partners. While we may see things from our different perspectives, it’s clear we’re aligned in trying to keep as many people covered as possible and being as creative as we can to meet customer needs.

19 directors of state-based marketplaces gather and smile for a photo on the steps of a building in Washington D.C.

DACA Recipients Will Be Eligible for Marketplace Plans

Last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule that will allow DACA recipients to enroll in a plan through Connect for Health Colorado starting later this fall. This is a really big deal and is an issue we’ve been monitoring for a while.

Currently, we offer health plans and financial help to about 11,000 people in Colorado who are undocumented, including DACA recipients, via the OmniSalud program. This program’s financial help is made possible by our state’s Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise and has been limited. I’m hopeful this change will open some of the limited financial help available in our OmniSalud program this coming year and allow even more people to get covered.

In general, I’m grateful for the strides the Administration has made in improving access and affordability through regulatory changes. And I’m very glad for this latest update that allows DACA recipients to shop on our Marketplace. Staff are already developing our plan to implement this change, and we’ll be ready to help current and new customers navigate their eligibility come fall. This change makes sense for our business, and it upholds our mission to increase access, affordability, and choice for all the people of Colorado in need of health coverage.

Take care,

Kevin Patterson, MURP, MPA
Chief Executive Officer
Connect for Health Colorado

In The News

I had the pleasure of speaking with business reporter Analisa Romano of the Denver Business Journal about my career and how it brought me to this role as leader of Colorado’s health insurance exchange. Grab your coffee and read the profile here.

Illustrating the Impact of Financial Help in Colorado

We have provided thousands of Coloradans with increased access to savings thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2023. The federal laws expanded the amount of assistance people can receive towards their health insurance premium when shopping through an Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace—like Connect for Health Colorado— through 2025.

Some facts I shared about Colorado with our federal partners…

  • Every Open Enrollment since the passage of ARPA and IRA has broken enrollment records- 2024 was our most successful Open Enrollment period in history at over 237,000 people covered. This includes a 41% increase in financially assisted enrollments from 2021.
  • Customers aged 55 and older have decreased their net premiums by 73% due to the enhanced subsidies.
  • Enhanced subsidies are especially impactful in rural Colorado. Expanded financial assistance led to a 40% enrollment increase between 2021 and 2024 across all rural counties, and on average, a 53% increase to their monthly financial assistance.
  • Removing the income limit for financial help eligibility helps middle class Coloradans. 34,000 Coloradans in 2024 are receiving financial help for which they would have been ineligible without removal of the income limit.