Dec 16, 2015

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Advocacy Alert: InnovAge conversion hearing, Dec. 17

by | Dec 16, 2015

Concerned Coloradans will have a chance to weigh in on a proposal that affects thousands of elderly and disabled Coloradans and hundreds of millions of dollars in community assets.

Public testimony on the proposed InnovAge nonprofit conversion case will be heard on Dec. 17, 2015 from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first floor of the Ralph L. Carr Justice Center at 1300 Broadway in Denver. Members of the public will be allowed to present comments at the hearing, which will be limited to three minutes per speaker.

During the last Colorado legislative session, InnovAge backed a bill that would let nonprofits that provide community-centered services through Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (or PACE) operate as for-profits — anticipating a change in the federal law which went into effect last May.

In late October, InnovAge filed a plan to convert to a for-profit organization. A Denver-based nonprofit, InnovAge operates several center-based senior care programs in Colorado. InnovAge’s proposal, which is available on the Attorney General’s website, has raised concerns with advocacy organizations including the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.

Last Thursday, CCLP filed objections and comments to InnovAge’s proposal with the Attorney General. In short, CCLP has questions about whether InnovAge’s assets will be valued fairly and allocated appropriately. We also would like to ensure that the level of care provided by the new for-profit entity will not be degraded.

Recently, the Denver Business Journal detailed some of CCLP’s concerns about the plan. In addition, four of the state’s largest grant-making foundations stated their concerns in this letter to Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

This case involves a vulnerable and growing population and the potential to make several hundred million dollars available to support this population through future grant-making and program support.

Virtually all of us want to be able to remain at home and independent as we age — regardless of whether we have disabilities or are in frail health. We hope our family and friends can do so as well. Thursday’s hearing gives Coloradans a rare opportunity to weigh in on whether a new or existing foundation should be created to support that goal and to express their views on whether the public should have a say in development of that foundation’s mission, its board, and its ongoing work.

CCLP encourages its partners and allies to stay informed about the process and to share their thoughts with the Attorney General by giving oral testimony at the Dec. 17 hearing or submitting written comments by the Jan. 8 deadline.

– Bob Mook

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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.