Mar 21, 2019

Recent articles

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 2

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs. Part 2/2.

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 1

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs.

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.

Statement on President Trump’s Budget Proposal

by | Mar 21, 2019

With its familiar refrain of slashing trillions of dollars from human service programs over the next 10 years, political observers have already declared that President Trump’s budget proposal is “dead on arrival” in Congress and doesn’t present a serious threat to Americans who are struggling to make ends meet.

Still, there is serious cause for concern since the proposal yet again flags the administration’s intentions to dismantle key supports for seniors, low-income families and students. Though most components of the budget proposal won’t likely be enacted, they too often advance the toxic narrative that recipients of these programs are unworthy freeloaders collectively digging the country deeper in debt. Over time, this harmful narrative diminishes support for human service programs like SNAP, while stigmatizing people who use them.

The budget proposes cuts over a 10-year period in Medicaid ($1.4 trillion), Medicare (amounting to $845 billion), SNAP ($220 billion), federal student loan programs ($207 billion), Supplemental Security Income (SSI — $70 billion) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF — $21 billion).

Reductions in Medicaid funding will purportedly come from increasing work requirements for recipients and transitioning the program into “block grants” for states while terminating expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. As CCLP’s Allison Neswood pointed out in a 2016 blog, block granting Medicaid would put states in the untenable position of either redirecting state funds from other vital needs to replace the reductions in federal funding, or reducing access to care. Furthermore, block grants don’t allow the federal Medicaid budget to expand when downturns in the economy or natural disasters create a surge in the number of people who are eligible for the program.

Among other proposals in the budget, the administration would like to siphon $2 billion of reserves from the Pell Grant program – the primary source of federal grant aid for millions of students whose families typically earn less than $60,000 a year – potentially putting the future of the program in jeopardy. It also proposes $8.6 billion in cuts for Housing and Urban Development and increases ill-founded “work requirements” for families receiving federal housing assistance.

The administration proposes once again to eliminate the Legal Services Corp., which provides access to civil justice for Americans who otherwise could not afford legal representation. The budget also reintroduces the concept of a “food box” in lieu of cash assistance for SNAP recipients. Along with demeaning SNAP recipients by restricting their ability to buy healthy food that is consistent with their needs, this concept undermines the efficiency of SNAP in putting food on the table and supporting local economies.

Like previous budget proposals, this year’s model either overlooked or ignored the fact that most able-bodied Americans who receive government assistance already work – often more than one job. Rather than supporting programs that get Americans on a better career path, this budget proposes drastic cuts to programs and services that equip people to better participate in the job market.

This budget is a missed opportunity for the country. We are saddened that rather than proposing a fresh vision for America, this administration insists on replaying themes from the past two years that in many instances weren’t even embraced by members of the president’s own political party.

As Congress weighs the president’s budget proposal, we at CCLP believe that the way forward begins with policies that invest in people. In 2017, our four-part series A Better Budget outlined how policymakers can strengthen the nation’s safety net while building an inclusive, fair and just economy that reflects our nation’s ideals and puts more Americans on a path toward self-sufficiency. We presented ways to revive education and training, rebuild affordable housing, stop hunger and preserve funding civil legal aid.

In the months to come, we urge you to keep watch on Congress and be ready to call or write your elected officials when they are considering fiscal policies that would leave millions of Americans worse off than they are now. The Coalition on Human Needs regularly updates its Budget and Appropriations resource page with analyses of the budget from expert organizations, including resources on health, nutrition, housing, fair revenues and more.

We at CCLP will continue to monitor and provide updates on what is almost certain to be another divisive budget process. In the meantime, we lament this most recent effort to undo human services that help hard-working Americans.

Join us in urging Congress to reject this budget and increase investments in health care, workforce development and other priorities that reduce poverty and promote the health and well-being of all Americans.

– CCLP

Recent articles

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 2

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs. Part 2/2.

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 1

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs.

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.

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.