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News brief with The Colorado Sun: Medicaid child disability care woes and a new riverside campground

An illustration of a blue tent on a patch of green with a campfire in front and two camp chairs
Meredith Miotke
There's a new campground set to open this summer on the Colorado River near Grand Junction. It will serve people doing boat trips along the river who need a place to stay overnight.

Each week, we talk with our colleagues at The Colorado Sun about the stories they're following. This time, Sun Editor David Krause joins us to discuss issues Colorado families are experiencing with Medicaid claims and a new boat-in campground aimed at recreationists riding the river.

The Sun found some parents of children with severe disabilities are having trouble getting Medicaid claims approved.

Krause said about 950 families in Colorado have children with disabilities so severe that they need around-the-clock, in-home care as well as specialty medical equipment like breathing and feeding tubes.

“Really, the confusion goes back to three years ago when the pandemic started, and when the Department of Health and Policy and Finance—which includes Medicaid—started putting a freeze on their prior authorization process,” Krause said.

Krause said during the COVID-19 pandemic, families received services based on physician's orders without having to go through prior authorization, a routine approval process for costly medical services. But now that pandemic-era Medicaid changes have ended, the state has a new contractor to process Medicaid prior authorization claims.

“Families are starting to get notices about getting pre-authorization, and they might have a cut in their service or get it denied altogether. So there's a new wave of frustration going on,” Krause said.

The state has met with disability advocacy groups to hear their concerns and has also reached out to families who have complained. Recently, a group of families joined together and hired an attorney to try to get their denied prior authorization claims re-assessed.

In another story, there's a new campground set to open this summer on the Colorado River.

A couple in Grand Junction bought about eight acres of land near their home—and right on the Colorado River.

“Their goal is to turn it into a boat-in campground, to where people who are on the river can do an overnight trip,” Krause said. “Right now, they plan to open in August.”

The site doesn't have bathrooms or picnic tables yet, “but their plan by next summer is to be a more full-bath campground, with bathrooms, picnic tables and even a small general store,” Krause said.

As a reporter and host for KUNC, I follow the local stories of the day while also guiding KUNC listeners through NPR's wider-scope coverage. It's an honor and a privilege to help our audience start their day informed and entertained.
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