Sep 26, 2018

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Sen. Beth Martinez-Humenik: A Champion of Economic Justice

by | Sep 26, 2018

Elected in 2014, Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik has established herself as a champion of legislation that advances the health, well-being and financial security of low-income Coloradans. A fourth-generation Coloradan, she represents the residents of Senate District 24 in Adams County.

Sen. Martinez Humenik is the great granddaughter of immigrants and her parents were public school teachers who settled in Fort Collins. With a long line of educators in her family, the benefit of a good education has always been important. She is related to the late State Sen. Bob Martinez and was raised in a household with four sisters who all excelled in sports. She was taught to be a good student, respect others, appreciate diversity, work hard to attain goals, exercise tolerance, build trust with honesty and to give back by “paying it forward.”

She attended Colorado State University where she obtained both her bachelor and master’s degrees.  Martinez Humenik found a calling in public service and served for seven years on the Thornton City Council before being elected to the Colorado Senate The Senator has a wide-ranging professional background which has informed the work that she does now as a legislator.

During the 2018 legislative session, Martinez Humenik sponsored a number of successful bills backed or supported by CCLP, including Senate Bill 10 which requires landlords to provide tenants with a copy of their lease, and a receipt when the tenant pays their rent using cash or a money order. As the Vice Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, she was key to defeating a bill that would have added work requirements and a lifetime limit for participants in Colorado’s Medicaid program. She was also the Senate sponsor of House Bill 1196, which makes it easier for eligible applicants of the Aid to the Needy Disabled program to access the program by expanding the list of qualified mental health professionals that can verify disability status for the program.

It is very important to Sen. Martinez Humenik to work on bi-partisan legislation.  She collaborates with colleagues across the aisle on bills that help our businesses grow and that allow individuals as well as hard-working families to have the quality of life desired here.

In recent years, Martinez Humenik has emerged as a leader championing economic security for low-income Coloradans.

“In the last year alone, she has worked with members of both parties to enact commonsense protections for renters, reduce barriers for people who need to access disability support programs, and preserve a more efficient Medicaid program that doesn’t impede healthcare with burdensome work requirements, said Jack Regenbogen, CCLP’s Family & Economic Security Attorney.

She is the Chair of the Senate Local Government Committee, the Vice Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and is the Vice Chair as well as past Chair of the Joint Technology Committee.  She is also actively engaged with many caucuses during the session as well as serves on national groups.

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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.