Legislative Update: Feb. 3, 2017

Bill to Watch: SB 118
Ideally, for-profit occupational schools provide students with an opportunity to obtain skills needed to compete in the workforce and find a well-paying job. However, such programs tend to cost more than tuition at community colleges. Furthermore, these schools often are unlikely to lead to gainful employment and frequently result in high debt loads and student-loan defaults.

Nationally, the surge in student loan defaults in the last decade was largely concentrated among relatively older, low-income students who attended for-profit colleges. Given this context, it’s important that these schools  make information available so that prospective students can make informed decisions about what types of training to pursue and what programs will prepare them for gainful employment.

Senate Bill 118, sponsored by Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, would require private occupational schools to provide information about educational outcomes (such as completion rates, total costs, estimated debt load and average starting salaries), before students sign a contract .The legislation also calls for the state to develop a website to help students make informed decisions when investing in a secondary education.

Backed by the Skills2Compete Colorado Coalition led by CCLP, SB 118 will be heard by the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee on Feb. 11 at 1:30 p.m. at Senate Committee Room 357. Learn more about the legislation on this fact sheet.

On the Radar: SB 121
When a Medicaid client receives an unexpected letter from the State of Colorado, it often marks the beginning of a trying and potentially life-altering ordeal. These letters, sometimes referred to as Notices of Action (NOAs), are mailed to clients when health care benefits are being reduced or terminated. In practice, however, NOAs are often vague and confusing. Most do not specify why benefits are being terminated or reduced, so Medicaid clients don’t always know whether they should challenge the decision. Furthermore, without proper notice, those who appeal may be unable to fully prepare their case.

Senate Bill 121, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud and Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, requires the Colorado Department on Health Care Policy and Financing to engage in a  process to improve Medicaid client communications — including client letters and notice — that addresses denial, reduction, suspension, or termination of Medicaid benefits.

The legislation is part of a suite of bills recommended by CCLP and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition aimed at improving the Medicaid notification process. SB 121 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Feb. 9 at 1:30 p.m. Learn more about Medicaid notifications in this CCLP posting.

– Bob Mook