For over 20 years, CCLP’s efforts have improved the health and financial security of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. We are widely recognized by policymakers, opinion leaders and advocates for our knowledge, skill and effectiveness in shaping enduring, systemic change in Colorado.
Here are some of our most significant milestones and accomplishments over the years.
Colorado’s legal aid community created CCLP in 1998, so that people would continue to have access to justice after Congress imposed advocacy restrictions on federally funded legal services. We quickly emerged as a leader in increasing access to health care, family economic security, job training and other critical family needs and supports.
Representing the public interest
We represented the public interest in the conversion and sale of the nonprofit Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Colorado to the for-profit Anthem Inc., by ensuring that the assets of the nonprofit were valued fairly and allocated appropriately to serve the community’s needs. The effort began in 1996 with support from Catholic Charities. The conversion resulted in the creation of the Caring for Colorado Foundation in 1999.
Also in 1999, we led the campaign to establish a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers who are trying to support their families. Widely considered one of the most effective tools for fighting poverty, the EITC puts extra dollars in the pockets of low-income Coloradans.
Weston v. Cassata
We played a major role in Weston v. Cassata, in which the court affirmed that participants in Colorado’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families program have due process rights upon denials, terminations or changes in eligibility or benefits, which established the legal basis for requiring complete and accurate notices of action.
Saving Medicaid benefits
We successfully delayed termination of Medicaid for lawfully present immigrants in Colorado — ensuring they did not lose access to health care services while a funding source was being developed to provide those services. Ultimately, benefits were restored to this population through a voter-approved increase in tobacco taxes, so no immigrants lost services.
CBMS crisis and CHF distribution
We brought a lawsuit against the state when the new Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS) consistently failed to make accurate determinations of eligibility for benefits – leaving tens of thousands of people without access to health care, medications, cash assistance and food. CCLP secured a settlement requiring the state to meet benchmarks for processing applications timely and accurately, which held the state accountable until it consistently met those benchmarks.
We also challenged the sufficiency of the Colorado Health Foundation’s distribution of assets as required by their tax status, resulting in a substantial increase (from $5 million to more than $100 million) in annual giving by the Foundation — a funding threshold that continues to benefit health-oriented nonprofits in Colorado and the people they serve.
Homeless ID Task Force
We collaborated with Colorado Lawyers Committee’s Homeless ID Task Force on a lawsuit that successfully challenged restrictive ID requirements that denied citizens vital services.
Unemployment insurance in the Great Recession
We led efforts to reform unemployment insurance during the depth of the Great Recession when many workers were living exclusively on unemployment benefits — making it easier for the lowest-paid intermittent workers to claim unemployment subsidies.
Connect for Health Colorado
We helped craft legislation that established Colorado’s health-insurance exchange, Connect for Health Colorado. Since then, we have worked with the exchange to support access and eliminate barriers to federal tax credits and other financial assistance offered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
We played a leading role in Colorado’s decision to expand Medicaid under the ACA. As a result, more than 250,000 additional Coloradans now have access to health care.
Supporting TANF recipients
We developed and advocated for pioneering legislation that would enable parents on TANF to receive the child-support payments made by the non-custodial parent — allowing the children of TANF recipients to benefit directly from their parents’ hard work. With the passage of the bill, Colorado became the first state to allow parents on TANF to receive 100 percent of the child support from non-custodial parents.
Raising the minimum wage
We played a major role in a campaign for a successful ballot initiative that will raise Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. As a result, Colorado’s lowest-wage workers are getting a much-needed boost while job growth and the economy remain strong in the state.
We developed and lobbied for a successful bipartisan bill which extended the seven-day notice period for renters without a lease to 21 days — providing significantly more time for those potentially vulnerable residents to move or get assistance so they do not end up homeless or in a nursing home if their rent increases or if their residency agreement is terminated.
Increasing TANF cash assistance
With our partners, we built support for the State Human Service Board to approve a 10 percent increase in basic cash assistance for participants in Colorado’s TANF program — the first such increase in 10 years.
All 13 bills developed or led by CCLP were approved by legislators with bipartisan support and signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis. The measures include House Bill 1223, which helps Coloradans with disabilities apply for financial assistance from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs and Senate Bill 180, which establishes a $750,000 legal defense fund to help Coloradans facing eviction.
Progressing in the face of the pandemic
Despite daunting challenges, a shortened legislative session and significant budget cuts in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators made significant progress, with ten CCLP-supported bills being signed into law. These laws addressed COVID-related crises in our state, supported more Coloradans through public benefits programs, improved health care access, addressed challenges in the criminal justice system and much more.