Colorado Medicaid Selected for Federal Program to Reduce Maternal Opioid Misuse

Colorado among 10 states to receive additional federal funding


December 19, 2019

Media Contact:
Marc Williams

Denver, CO – Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (the Department) is among 10 state Medicaid agencies selected to receive federal funding under the Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) Model. The Colorado portion of the CMS grant will total $4.6 million over five years. The MOM Model is intended to improve the quality of care and reduce expenditures for pregnant and postpartum women with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) as well as their infants. The MOM Model increases access to treatment while creating sustainable coverage and payment strategies that support ongoing coordination and integration of care.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Maternal Mortality Review Committee, behavioral health conditions such as suicide and drug overdoses are the leading causes of death among pregnant women and women up to one year postpartum. Deaths due to other maternal health conditions are declining, but behavioral health deaths are on the rise. A Department review of 2016 Colorado Medicaid claims data showed the cost of care for pregnant women with opioid use disorders was more than twice the cost of care for pregnant women without opioid use disorders.

“While Colorado has not to date been as hard hit by the opioid crisis as some other states, we have seen an unprecedented increase in infants born affected by a mother’s substance use,” said Colorado Medicaid Director Tracy Johnson. “We view this grant as an opportunity to direct local resources to some of our most vulnerable Coloradans.” 

Since 2014, Colorado has seen a more than 200 percent increase in infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Infants born with NAS stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) an average of nearly seven days longer, and at an average cost of $4600 more than other infants admitted to the NICU who are covered by Health First Colorado.

The Department is working to support the entire continuum of care from lower acuity addiction to high acuity addiction. Pregnant and parenting women with substance use disorders who are enrolled in Health First Colorado are eligible for residential and outpatient services through a program called Special Connections.

“Health First Colorado and CHP+ cover approximately 45 percent of births in Colorado each year. Research shows that when behavioral and physical health services are integrated, access and outcomes are improved,” said Executive Director Kim Bimestefer. “This grant will enable the integration of behavioral health and obstetric services which leads to improved health for both mom and baby. It’s a win-win all around.”

About the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing: The Department administers Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program), Child Health Plan Plus, and other programs for Coloradans who qualify. For more information about the Department, please visit