Sep 18, 2017

Recent articles

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

Here we go again: Graham-Cassidy bill is as bad as previous repeal and replace efforts and it has a chance of passing

by | Sep 18, 2017

Over the summer, congressional leaders tried again and again to eliminate many of the protections and coverage gains resulting from the Affordable Care Act. They took up bills that would have gutted funding for Medicaid coverage and services and modified insurance protections in ways that would have significantly increased the cost of coverage. Older consumers, people with pre-existing conditions, and those living in high-cost coverage areas would have been disproportionately harmed by these proposals.

Millions of Americans came together to stop these efforts. They understood that passage of this legislation would have caused catastrophic harm to their health and the health of their neighbors, their communities and their local economies.

When those bills failed this summer we were not only relieved, but also hopeful about the prospect of Congress returning to regular order and working together to address some of our nation’s most pressing health care issues.  In fact, over the past two weeks, the Senate HELP committee has been holding hearings on how to shore up the individual insurance market. Recently, Governors Hickenlooper and Kasich were joined by six other governors in a bi-partisan call for reasonable reform.

Unfortunately, the Senate now appears to be on a fast track to pass a new bill. Dubbed the “Graham-Cassidy” plan and sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the bill includes most of the problematic provisions in the proposed legislation that was defeated this past summer. The bill only needs 50 votes to pass – with Vice President Pence’s tie-breaking vote — and they are reportedly only a few votes shy of that goal.

What you need to know:

  • The bill is on a fast track. It must get through the House and Senate by September 30 if it is to pass as a part of budget reconciliation and avoid the need for 60 votes in the Senate. This is the same rushed and partisan process that they attempted over the summer.

 

  • The bill would take away health care coverage from millions of Americans. It is not clear when the Congressional Budget Office score will come out, or if that score will even include an estimate of coverage losses. Remember, however, that previous efforts to repeal and replace would have resulted in as many 32 million Americans losing health insurance. It is estimated that the Graham-Cassidy bill’s effects would be identical to those of the past efforts to repeal the ACA: 15 million would lose their health care coverage next year alone, and by 2027 it is estimated that at least 32 million would face a loss in coverage.

 

  • The bill would end Medicaid as we know it by eliminating funding for the Medicaid expansion population beginning in December, 2019. It would also institute a per-capita cap on the federal government’s contribution to the program overall, a mechanism that we’ve noted in the past all but guarantees the loss of health care coverage and critical services for millions of Americans.

 

  • The bill seriously threatens coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Similar to the House bill’s “MacArthur amendment,” the Cassidy-Graham bill would let states waive the ACA’s prohibition on charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums as well as its Essential Health Benefit requirements.

What you can do:  ACT NOW! 

We’re relying on you to once again make your voice heard by calling and emailing Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and telling them that the Graham-Cassidy bill is more of the same nonsense that would profoundly harm Coloradans.

Your actions and advocacy over the summer led to the defeat of the American Health Care Act, BCRA and the other irresponsible repeal efforts put forth by congressional leaders. We’re counting on you to step up once again.

Take action today!

  • Senator Michael Bennet: Call (202) 224-5852 or email him.
  • Senator Cory Garnder: Call (202) 224-5941 or email him.

 

 

Kristopher Grant

Recent articles

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

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.