Feb 15, 2019

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Legislative Update: Feb. 15, 2019

by | Feb 15, 2019

Bill to Watch: HB 1038
Nearly 900 pregnant women with health insurance coverage from Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) lack coverage for dental care. Having access to oral health care, however, improves an expectant mother’s health, their pregnancy outcomes and the health of their newborn baby.

During pregnancy, changes to a woman’s diet and hormone levels increase her risks for a number of oral health conditions, including tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontal disease. In pregnant mothers, periodontal disease has been linked to adverse birth outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth-weights.

For a small cost, Colorado could add dental benefits for these women and help ensure their children get a healthy start in life. Sponsored by Reps. Monica Duran and Susan Lontine and Sens. Joann Ginal and Tammy Story, House Bill 1038 requires a total appropriation of $439,425 to be dedicated to oral health coverage for pregnant mothers covered under CHP+. However, due to a federal match rate of 88 percent for CHP+, $372,470 will come from federal funds and the remaining $66,955 will come from a trust fund consisting mostly of funds from the tobacco settlement.

CCLP supports this legislation, which passed unanimously through the House Committee on Public Health Care and Human Services in late January and is awaiting approval from the House Appropriations Committee.

Bill to Watch: HB 1170
Alarmingly, one in four Coloradans spends more than 50 percent of their income on housing. With affordable housing stock becoming increasingly scarce, health and safety of the available units is becoming a growing concern. Units are being rented out despite being infested with mice and bedbugs or with serious safety concerns such as gas leaks, broken heat and other serious hazards.

Developed by 9to5 Colorado and sponsored by and Reps. Dominique Jackson and Mike Weissman and Sens. Angela Williams and Jeff Bridges, House Bill 1170 would strengthen Colorado’s Warranty of Habitability statute that requires landlords to maintain safe and habitable rental units.

Current law assumes that landlords who file to evict tenants do so in “good faith” rather than in retaliation for reporting unsafe conditions. No other state has a law that automatically grants a presumption in favor of the landlord. Also, current law lacks sufficient remedies to hold landlords accountable when units are uninhabitable. Furthermore, the current statute does not include the presence of mold as a factor that could deem a unit uninhabitable. HB 1170 would rectify those shortcomings in the law, define a reasonable timeframe for the landlord to make repairs and give renters the right to withhold an estimated cost of the repair from a rent payment and reinforce the right to break a lease if the uninhabitable conditions persist.

Whether they rent or own, everyone should have a safe place to call home. That’s why CCLP strongly supports HB 1170.

On the Radar
Free or reduced-price school lunches are proven to reduce food insecurity and obesity among elementary-school children while improving health and academic performance. Sponsored by Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Sen. Rhonda Fields, House Bill 1171 would extend free lunches in Colorado schools by removing caps on the middle school program and extending grades of eligibility up through 12th grade. CCLP supports the legislation, which will be heard by the House Education Committee on Feb. 21.

House Bill 1118, which would increase Colorado’s eviction notice period from three days to 14 days, was transferred from the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee to the House Transportation and Local Government Committee on Wednesday. If passed, the bill would give thousands of Colorado families a more reasonable timeframe to avoid the devastating effect of a forced move, or allow tenants to transition to new housing if they cannot reach an agreement with their landlord. HB 1118 is a win-win for renters and taxpayers.

By preventing evictions, the bill would reduce shelter, hospital and mental health costs and juvenile delinquency.

Learn more about the legislation in this op-ed in Colorado Politics from CCLP’s Jack Regenbogen.

-By 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.