For 25 years, CCLP’s efforts have improved the health, housing, and financial security of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. We are widely recognized by policymakers, opinion leaders and advocates for our knowledge, skills, and effectiveness in shaping and enduring systemic change in Colorado.

Here are some of our most significant milestones and accomplishments over the years. Any mention of publications can be found under CCLP Resources.



Colorado’s legal aid community created CCLP in 1998, so that people would continue to have access to justice after Congress imposed advocacy restrictions on federally funded legal services. We quickly emerged as a leader in increasing access to health care, family economic security, job training and other critical family needs and supports. 


Representing the public interest

We represented the public interest in the conversion and sale of the nonprofit Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Colorado to the for-profit Anthem Inc., by ensuring that the assets of the nonprofit were valued fairly and allocated appropriately to serve the community’s needs. The effort began in 1996 with support from Catholic Charities. The conversion resulted in the creation of the Caring for Colorado Foundation in 1999. 

Also in 1999, we led the campaign to establish a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers who are trying to support their families. Widely considered one of the most effective tools for fighting poverty, the EITC puts extra dollars in the pockets of low-income Coloradans. 


Weston v. Cassata

We played a major role in Weston v. Cassata, in which the court affirmed that participants in Colorado’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families program have due process rights upon denials, terminations or changes in eligibility or benefits, which established the legal basis for requiring complete and accurate notices of action.


Saving Medicaid benefits

We successfully delayed termination of Medicaid for lawfully present immigrants in Colorado — ensuring they did not lose access to health care services while a funding source was being developed to provide those services. Ultimately, benefits were restored to this population through a voter-approved increase in tobacco taxes, so no immigrants lost services.


CBMS crisis and CHF distribution

We brought a lawsuit against the state when the new Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS) consistently failed to make accurate determinations of eligibility for benefits – leaving tens of thousands of people without access to health care, medications, cash assistance and food. CCLP secured a settlement requiring the state to meet benchmarks for processing applications timely and accurately, which held the state accountable until it consistently met those benchmarks. 

We also challenged the sufficiency of the Colorado Health Foundation’s distribution of assets as required by their tax status, resulting in a substantial increase (from $5 million to more than $100 million) in annual giving by the Foundation — a funding threshold that continues to benefit health-oriented nonprofits in Colorado and the people they serve. We also published Colorado’s Self-Sufficiency Standard for 2004. 


Compliance for Colorado

In 2005, CCLP won an injunction obligating the state to comply with timely processing requirements for welfare benefits through the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS). This victory impacts more than 700,000 low-income Coloradans each year.


Homeless ID Task Force

We collaborated with Colorado Lawyers Committee’s Homeless ID Task Force on a lawsuit that successfully challenged restrictive ID requirements that denied citizens vital services.


On tour across the state

CCLP organized the second Paycheck Away Tour with a coalition of other nonprofits and advocacy groups, traveling around the state to discuss and address poverty issues and economic barriers in local communities, and how public policymakers can do better to help. A 15-minute documentary was produced following the tour. 


10 years of CCLP & health care affordability

This year, we celebrated our first 10 years as an organization! 

CCLP authored an innovative new report, with partners from Colorado Voices for Coverage, The Cost of Care: Can Coloradans Afford Health Care, that has helped inform the national health care debate surrounding affordability for health care consumers. This is the most comprehensive state-based work on health care affordability in the country. We also published 2008’s State of Working Colorado. 


Unemployment insurance in the Great Recession

We led efforts to reform unemployment insurance during the depth of the Great Recession when many workers were living exclusively on unemployment benefits — making it easier for the lowest-paid intermittent workers to claim unemployment subsidies. 

CCLP continued serving as a watchdog on the state’s lackluster efforts to fulfill the December 2007 settlement agreement on the lawsuit involving the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS). CCLP continues to monitor the State’s compliance with the settlement and progress towards fixing CBMS to ensure timely processing of applications and distribution of accurate benefit amounts.


Patient protections

CCLP protected access to Medicaid for more than 2,700 low-income parents by identifying a misinterpretation of federal Medicaid eligibility law by the state and working with the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to correct it.   

CCLP defended access to the Old Age Pension Program. While a law passed that made severe cuts to legal immigrants’ eligibility for the program, CCLP worked diligently with partners to mitigate harm to the most vulnerable Old Age Pensioners. The Health Care Program successfully advocated for the inclusion of hardship exemptions in the legislation and monitored the exemptions through the rulemaking and implementation process.   

In the November 2010 election, CCLP played a major role in defeating proposed Amendment 63, which was designed to undermine implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in Colorado. CCLP coordinated the Health Advocates Alliance, a large coalition of health care advocates and providers who in 2010 created working principles for the development of Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange. 

CCLP played a major role in passing a State False Claims Act. The act, parented on federal law, permits whistleblowers to complain of fraud by state or federal contractors. It is estimated the law will bring in more than $1 million annually, and it should deter fraud in many times that amount. The law was strongly supported by the Department of the Health Care Policy and Financing, which administers state and federally financed programs. 

During the 2010 interim session, the workgroups for the task force focused on employment, consumer protection and education drafted proposed bills with legislative chairs. New policy to support families as they move toward economic security included a measure increasing the inventory of affordable housing units, which supports the ability of low-income families to live near where they work. House Bill 10-1017 also provides an economic boost for cities and counties that support developers willing to build affordable housing.  

A bill shifting eligibility rules for child care assistance to provide families uninterrupted participation for up to a year. In 2010, the Family Economic Security Program staff also convened the Kellogg Foundation/Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Cliff Effect Learning Group, examining the cost of child care across the state. The program continued to chair the Bank on Denver evaluation committee, contributed to the Denver Human Rights Commission poverty report and was awarded the role of the state lead organizer for the Wider Opportunity for Women Elder Index Initiative.  


Connect for Health Colorado

We helped craft legislation that established Colorado’s health-insurance exchange, Connect for Health Colorado. Since then, we have worked with the exchange to support access and eliminate barriers to federal tax credits and other financial assistance offered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Connect for Health development

Beginning in 2012, CCLP has been fundamental in Connect for Health development. We served on advisory boards and collaborated to improve how Connect for Health presents options and to increase the scrutiny of people with fewer resources access plans. 


Expanding Medicaid

We played a leading role in Colorado’s decision to expand Medicaid under the ACA. As a result, more than 250,000 additional Coloradans now have access to health care.


EPSDT services for kids on Medicaid

In this year, CCLP was instrumental in adding personal care services to the list of benefits available to all kids enrolled in Medicaid. This was a piece of CCLP’s goal to ensure that Colorado complies with federal requirements that children receive all services that can be covered by the federal Medicaid program. When the state failed to provide applied behavioral analysis for all kids on the autism spectrum, CCLP again launched advocacy in this area.


Supporting TANF recipients

We developed and advocated for pioneering legislation that would enable parents on TANF to receive the child-support payments made by the non-custodial parent – allowing the children of TANF recipients to benefit directly from their parents’ hard work. With the passage of the bill, Colorado because the first state to allow parents on TANF to receive 100 percent of the child support from non-custodial parents. 


Raising the minimum wage

We played a major role in a campaign for a successful ballot initiative that will raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. As a result, Colorado’s lowest-wage workers are getting a much-needed boost while job growth and the economy remain strong in the state. 

In the last year, CCLP has been on the forefront of forcing HCPF to provide Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) to all children enrolled in Medicaid. 


Protecting renters and removing barriers

We developed and lobbied for a successful bipartisan bill which extended the seven-day notice periods for renters without a lease to 21 days. This change provided significantly more time for those potentially vulnerable residents to move or get assistance so they do not end up homeless or in a nursing home if their rent increases or if their residency agreement is terminated. A big splash was made by the publication, Facing Eviction Alone: A Study of Evictions in Denver Colorado from 2014-2016 in collaboration with Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. 

Beginning in 2017, our staff spent many months of work on the toxic Trump-administration rule changes regarding public charge. We did trainings on public charge for community groups and immigration attorneys to clarify the potential impact on access to public benefits, and championed efforts in Colorado to submit thousands of comments on proposed federal rule changes, providing model comments and engaging with community members. 


Increasing TANF cash assistance

With our partners, we built support for the State Human Services Board to approve a ten percent increase in basic cash assistance for participants in Colorado’s TANF program – the first such increase in ten years. 

Since 2014, CCLP has also been working on a multi-year project with the Division of Insurance on non-discriminatory planned benefit design for how drugs are provided in rulemaking and with a lot of disease groups to do analyses of how drugs are offered (I.e., cost-tier) and then to use the non-discrimination law in the ACA to persuade DOI to issue stricter rules about how drugs are offered on different cost-tiers. Our staff trained groups on how to do drug tier analyses and did all of the legal briefing that accompanied that data with the DOI. We were a part of several stakeholder meetings. 

This year, we celebrated our 20th anniversary as an organization! 


Transforming legislation

All 13 bills developed or led by CCLP were approved by legislators with bipartisan support and signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis. The measures include House Bill 1223, which helps Coloradans with disabilities apply for financial assistance from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs and Senate Bill 180, which establishes a $750,000 legal defense fund to help Coloradans facing eviction. 

We published our Medicaid declines report, which centered on the impact of administrative burden on people’s ability to remain enrolled. Over the past few years, CCLP also led the state in increasing scrutiny on behavioral health parity in health coverage with both the Division of Insurance and HCPF, providing training on requirements of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, commenting on federal rules that affected Medicaid, contributing to state rule-making and state-specific legislation, and working closely with the Division to heighten filing requirements for carriers regulated by the state. 


Progressing in the face of the pandemic

Despite daunting challenges, a shortened legislative session, and significant budget cuts in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators made significant progress, with ten CCLP-supported bills being signed into law. These laws addressed COVID-related crises in our state, supported more Coloradans through public benefits programs, improved health care access, addressed challenges in the criminal justice system and much more.  

In January 2020, we worked with the Colorado Lawyers Committee (CLC) and the Polsinelli law firm to persuade the state’s Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF) to pause denials of home health services, following issuance of a raft of inadequate notices and a wave of denials that put medically fragile children at risk of harm.  

Beginning in 2020, we worked on managed care accountability in Colorado, in a variety of forms: We submitted comments on proposed federal and state rules, engaged in a joint project with fellow advocates on how our state managed care entities, the Regional Accountable Entities (RAEs), are assessed; co-chaired a statewide committee that assesses and makes recommendations on how RAE performance is measured and how RAEs serve and engage members; and engaged in development of the next rendition of our managed care system, the so-called ACC 3.0. 


Regaining our bearings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic 

This year, national partners signed on to CCLP’s amicus brief, filed in Colorado’s Supreme Court, that identified errors and injustices in the criminal prosecution of a Medicaid recipient. After the court ruled against the recipient, we began to develop legislation for 2022 that aimed to address failings in how public benefits cases were being prosecuted in Colorado.  

Our grant-sponsored research on workforce development led to the publication of Ready for Work after COVID-19, which focused on how our workforce development systems can prepare Coloradans for a post-COVID economy. In support of rule-making on worker protections, we also published an issue brief on farmworker overtime, estimating the benefits and costs of the agricultural industry in the state.  

In the summer of 2021, we held a webinar with American Academy of Pediatrics-Colorado Chapter and Family Voices Colorado to discuss the steps needed to mitigate childhood poverty across the state. We worked with Family Voices Colorado again in publishing our Medicaid Appeals for Pediatric Home Health PDN Services guides, alongside a webinar in English and Spanish.  

In an effort to reduce the crushing impact of medical debt on Coloradans, CCLP worked to pass a revamped and far more enforceable version of the state’s Hospital Discounted Care program. This program requires screening for public programs, time-limited payments scaled to a patient’s ability to pay, and a right to pursue remedies in court if a hospital failed to comply. 


Continued progressive efforts amid the pandemic

During the 2022 legislative session and despite the pandemic, anti-poverty work continued to advance: 1.3 million Coloradans became eligible for improving and automating record-sealing, opening housing and job opportunities and a second chance at a better life; mobile home residents gained stronger rights, including $35 million set aside for loans and grants to assist residents to buy their mobile park home; families received a 10% increase in TANF support and annual cost of living adjustments; $500,000 in annual funding was given to the employment support and job retention services program cash fund; one in five Coloradans benefitted from new protections from surprise medical bills; and we followed up on our 2021 amicus work with the Vidauri case of Medicaid prosecution with a bill that clarified standards and provided protections against over-zealous prosecutions.  

We also published several reports and issue briefs. These include the 2022 Colorado Self-Sufficiency Standard which calculates how much income a family must earn to meet their basic needs without public or private assistance and the Overlooked & Undercounted report that revealed which Colorado families (considering demographic data that reveals greater barriers for some racial and ethnic groups) were struggling to make ends meet – even before the start of the pandemic. Our report on the SNAP program, Barriers, Errors & Due Process Denied: A Review of Colorado’s SNAP Administrative Hearing Process, found that SNAP beneficiaries in Colorado experience high rates of overpayments due to county error, that few are able to access fair hearings, and that when they do, they lose their hearings at rates that are much higher than national averages. 


25 years of anti-poverty efforts

Housing, health, and income were of the most concern in this year’s legislature. CCLP led and/or supported the following efforts: removal of medical debt from Coloradans’ credit reports; received increased funding for Adult Education programs; expansion of the EITC and CTC; expansion of protections and increased access for reproductive health care; expansion of equal pay for equal work; urge the state to comply with federal law around immigrant access to public benefits; limits to medical debt interest to three percent, and more.   

This year we published our Digital Equity report, investigating perspectives on digital equity challenges, and exploring ways to expand digital inclusion and literacy in Colorado. We created 3 guides on Medicaid appeals, helping community members better understand their rights and how best to utilize these resources. In the coming weeks, we will celebrate our first 25 years as an organization! 


To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.


Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.


Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.


Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.