Eagle County readies for Obamacare impacts

Derek Franz

EAGLE COUNTY – Eagle County is bracing for a flood of paperwork, anticipating that a drastically higher number of people will apply for Medicaid since the Affordable Care Act went into effect Oct. 1.

The county’s Economic Services Department is asking commissioners for pre-approval to hire up to three full-time employees to handle the increased workload.

Commonly referred to as Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act has stipulations regarding timeliness, which is a big reason the county wants to be proactive.

“We would not hire anyone until we reach certain benchmarks, such as a sustained increase over three weeks,” said Economic Services Director Kathleen Lyons. “With the opening of Colorado’s health insurance marketplace, all Connect for Health Colorado applications for financial assistance require a Medicaid denial. While the hope is that most of these online applications will utilize real-time eligibility and not need to be touched by county eligibility sites, the reality is the county is already receiving applications that did not meet real-time eligibility criteria and must have an eligibility determination completed through the county eligibility site.”

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New Application Process

Lyons said before Obamacare, the county received an average of 25 applications for Medicaid per week. Each application takes an average of two hours to process.

“We are estimating that 75 percent of the people newly eligible for Medicaid will apply between now and 2014,” she said. “We don’t know for sure if this influx is going to hit, but we want to be ready to hire people immediately when it does so that we don’t get even more backlogged waiting for that process.”

County Manager Keith Montag said the funding for those three positions will have to be set aside through approval in a supplemental budget.

Lyons said the positions would likely fill quickly if everything else is in order.

“Those positions would be focused on processing applications, so they wouldn’t need to be bilingual, which makes the jobs much easier to fill,” she said.

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