Today, Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bethany Pray provided testimony for Senate Bill 24-093, Continuity of Health-Care Coverage Change. CCLP is in support of SB24-093.
CCLP Policy Fellow, Milena Castañeda testified at the Medical Services Board meeting regarding emergency rules for the NEMT.
Chaer Robert provided testimony against House Bill 24-1065, Reduction of State Income Taxes. CCLP is in opposition of HB24-1065.
March Letter from Bethany Pray, Interim Executive Director
March brings change. The session is nearing the halfway point, the sub-zero temperatures are over in Denver — we hope! — and over the next four weeks, the thousands of fiscal decisions that go into the budget will come together and the legislative landscape will begin to take shape — almost as predictably as the daffodils, the start of spring training, and the exploding of the rabbit population in my front yard.
It is also predictable, you might say, that CCLP’s work this session focuses on the fundamentals: economic opportunity and better health. Provocative or headline-grabbing? Not necessarily. But the right policy changes can lower the unreasonable obstacles that low-income households confront when they are seeking better jobs or a better place to live or affordable health care. That can be life-changing for individuals. And those efforts have momentum, with all three of these CCLP priorities flying through their first committees on unanimous votes, thanks to the support of the community members who devoted their time to testifying, our fellow advocacy groups, and dedicated sponsors.
As convener of Skills2Compete, a multi-sector coalition centered on jobs, workforce and skills training, CCLP is helping lead House Bill 1124, which ensures continued funding for employment support and job retention for people receiving food assistance or SNAP, with the $1.5 million in state dollars matched by the same amount of federal funds. CCLP is also hard at work on another Skills2Compete priority, Senate Bill 007, a bipartisan bill that aims to address the appallingly poor funding for adult education in Colorado, and to better meet the needs of the tens of thousands of adults who lack a high school diploma. Colorado currently ranks 6th lowest nationally in funding for adult education, with just $7 of funding per each eligible adult.
Our health priorities are similarly fundamental. With House Bill 1126, CCLP aims to address the impact that medical debt – a burden that no one intends to take on – has on people’s ability to rent, get work, and get a loan with reasonable terms, by preventing that debt from being included on credit reports. Not only are reports of medical debt often inaccurate, but marginalized communities are saddled with higher levels of medical debt, and when included on credit reports, the debt has ripple effects that can last for decades. In Colorado alone, residents have $1.9 billion in medical debt, a clear sign of systemic failures in the way medical care is covered and delivered. At the same time, we successfully pushed for counties and the state appeals system to get more funding to better manage the end of continuous coverage in Medicaid. Hundreds of thousands of people will have to transition to other coverage, but no one who still meets eligibility requirements should have to face a gap in care.
None of us wants hundreds of thousands of Coloradans to be left behind – people who lack access to education or training, or are burdened by medical costs and their long-term impacts – because it’s clear that how our neighbors and communities fare affects all of us. We can make it possible for parents to get the education they need to support their own children’s schooling, to understand bills or lease requirements, to acquire the digital literacy skills that daily life requires, and to get good jobs. We can ensure that people who end up with medical debt because of a catastrophic health event or unreasonable hospital charges aren’t haunted by that long-term when they seek to start a business or buy a home. We can keep people covered by Medicaid. Among the hundreds of bills already introduced, there are also some that would foreclose people’s opportunities, like bills that criminalize addiction instead of making treatment more available, and those are well worth fighting.
However, it’s also important to keep in mind: we’re not yet at the half-way point of the session, and there are still more bills to come. In fact, some major bills are just now emerging in the health sphere, and we’ll be doubling down on ensuring that proposed changes to the law positively effect the experiences of patients and families, both financially and personally.
Coloradans are inventive and resourceful, but too many lack the opportunity to move their dreams forward. By prioritizing bills that create opportunity and stopping those that squelch it, we’ll all be able to benefit from what they have to offer.