Dec 15, 2016

Recent articles

Call to Action: Protect Our Coverage

In just two weeks, Congress will discuss cutting billions of dollars from Medicaid funding and programs that make health care coverage more affordable for hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. Now is the time to tell Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and our Congressional delegation that lives are at stake.

Let our representatives know that no action should be taken to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a carefully considered replacement plan.

Your phone calls today and throughout the holidays can make a difference. Contact information for the Governor and your senators is listed below. We’ve also provided a sample script. You can also identify your U.S. Representative or district by clicking here, but be sure to call the Governor and both senators, who represent all of us in Colorado.

Please note: To ensure your phone call is recorded and brought to the attention of your federal senators and representatives you must request a written responsePlease provide an email or mailing address to the staff member on the line with you where they can send it.

Gov. John Hickenlooper – 303-866-2471

Sen. Cory Gardner – 202-224-5941

Sen. Michael Bennet – 202-224-5852
Sample script:

“Hi. My name is _____________ and I’m a constituent of [Representative or Senator _________ or Governor Hickenlooper].

I’m calling today because I’m worried that Congress will rush to appeal the Affordable Care Act and put me at risk of losing my health care. Unless there is a replacement plan that will ensure that Coloradans can get coverage they can afford, repealing the ACA could result in hundreds of thousands of Coloradans losing access to the care they need. Health plans could be cancelled and all Coloradans could have to pay much more for coverage.

[IF YOU’VE BENEFITTED DIRECTLY FROM THE ACA, BECAUSE YOU WERE NEWLY ABLE TO GET COVERAGE, OR TAX CREDITS AND OTHER ASSISTANCE MADE IT MORE AFFORDABLE, OR YOU WERE ABLE TO GET MEDICAID FOR THE FIRST TIME, YOU CAN ADD 1-2 SENTENCES OF YOUR PERSONAL STORY AND HOW REPEAL WOULD IMPACT YOUR LIFE]

The ACA has helped close to 500,000 Coloradans, both children and adults, get health care. It’s given Coloradans a better opportunity to work, care for our children and live healthier lives. And it’s made our economy stronger and brought in thousands of jobs. We should not have to risk all that we’ve gained. Congress must devote time to creating a better plan before it rushes to repeal.

Please tell the [Representative or Senator or Governor] my concerns, and (if speaking to your federal senator or representative) please be sure to send me his/her response to my concerns in writing. Thank you for your time.”

Additionally, we are seeking stories from Coloradans who have benefitted directly from ACA-related programs. If you are willing to share your stories through testimony or with the public, please contact Zach Stone of Colorado Consumer Health Initiative at zstone@cohealthinitiative.org or 303-839-1261.You can also share your story and information by linking to CCHI’s story bank survey.
Thank you for speaking up and helping inform your elected officials of what is important to real Coloradans.

-Colorado Center on Law and Policy Staff

Recent articles

HEALTH:
HEALTH FIRST COLORADO (MEDICAID)

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.

FOOD SECURITY:
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP)

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.

FOOD SECURITY:
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC)

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.

EARLY LEARNING:
COLORADO CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CCCAP)

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.