Colorado: Maryland-style Easy Enrollment bill passes state assembly!

I know I've been seriously distracted with my county-level COVID-19 tracking project the past few weeks, but I'm still surprised this bill slipped by me:

Easy Enrollment Moving Forward

Denver -- Connect for Health Colorado® Chief Executive Officer Kevin Patterson released the following statement on the Health Care Coverage Easy Enrollment Program (HB 20-1236) after the bill passed through the General Assembly: 

“I am excited that we can extend access to affordable health coverage for Coloradans with the simple act of checking a box. Easy Enrollment can provide financial stability and improve health outcomes for thousands of residents, many of whom are unfamiliar with the sign up process, or do not know they qualify for help. Through legislation such as Easy Enrollment, we work toward our goals of reducing the uninsured rate and educating Coloradans on the financial help we provide.” 

The Easy Enrollment Program would allow Coloradans to mark on their state tax return that they are uninsured and opt-in for their information to be shared with Connect for Health Colorado, so we can see if they qualify for financial help or Health First Colorado (Medicaid). Connect for Health Colorado co-chairs the advisory committee to guide implementation and administration of the Easy Enrollment program, along with the Department of Revenue. The program will take effect in 2022.

This sounds pretty much identical to a bill passed last year in Maryland. The MD "EZ Enrollment" bill started out as a modified "Down Payment Mandate" bill (the idea was originally to reinstate the ACA's mandate penalty at the state level, but to have the penalty fee automatically applied towards ACA policy premiums).

Eventually the state legislature gave up on that but did pass a bill which simply adds an extra question to the state tax forms for those who didn't enroll in coverage during Open Enrollment. The bill also gave the state ACA exchange permission to check and see whether the tax filer qualifies for Medicaid or a subsidized ACA policy. If they qualified for Medicaid, they're auto-enrolled; if they qualify for subsidies, they're contacted and given info on how to enroll, along with a Special Enrollment Period to do so.

So far this year, at least 18,000 Maryland residents checked the box and at least 2,500 gained coverage as a result. Not huge numbers, but it costs the state almost nothing to do it, and every additional person who gets covered is a good thing.