Feb 1, 2019

Recent articles

25th anniversary recap

On August 10, 2023, CCLP celebrated our 25th anniversary, bringing friends new and old to the Carriage House at the Governor's Residence.

Legislative Update: Feb. 1, 2019

by | Feb 1, 2019

Bill to Watch: HB 1085
The Property Tax/Rent/Heat Credit Rebate (commonly known as the PTC Rebate) is targeted to low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities. Most rebate recipients are living on a small, fixed income and face significant financial challenges.

While helpful in offsetting property taxes, rent and heating expenses, the PTC Rebate offers only nominal relief. In 2016, 18,139 individuals received an average rebate of only $372 (or $31 a month). The current rebate has not been increased since 2014, even as housing costs have skyrocketed. As a result, low-income older adults and people with disabilities are suffering from widespread housing insecurity, and in the worst cases, homelessness. This situation also makes it more difficult to provide the supportive services that help keep these people living independently in the community. Often, the only option available is to go into a long-term care facility where the costs to Medicaid are much higher.

Sponsored by Rep. Tony Exum and Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, House Bill 1085 would modestly increase eligibility, and the amounts and income thresholds for the PTC rebate, while indexing the rebates to inflation in the future. CCLP strongly supports the bill, which was approved by the House Finance Committee on Monday and moves to the House Appropriations Committee next.

On the Radar: HB 1025 and HB 1107
Hopefully the third time will be the charm for legislation that would give people with criminal records a better chance to compete in the job market. House Bill 1025, sponsored by Rep. Leslie Herod and Rep. Jovan Melton, prohibits employers from asking about criminal history on an application. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved HB 1025 on a bipartisan vote of 8-3.

A similar bill was developed by CCLP’s Jack Regenbogen in 2016. CCLP backed a similar proposal during the 2017 legislative session as well. CCLP strongly supports this legislation, which will help many Coloradans that face barriers to employment re-enter the workforce. Learn more from CBS4Westword and The Colorado Sun.

Access to supportive services – such as emergency child care or work equipment – can make a difference between a successful start on an employment and training opportunity or a setback.

Developed by CCLP and the Skills2Compete Colorado Coalition, House Bill 1107 would create a three-year pilot program for an emergency support-services fund that community-based organizations and public agencies can draw from to serve participants that face low-cost hurdles to completing job training or maintaining employment. Benefits are capped at $400 per year per eligible job-seeker.

Sponsored in the House by Rep. James Coleman and in the Senate by Sen. Rhonda Fields and Sen. Kevin Priola, HB 1107 passed out of the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on Jan. 30 on a 7-3 vote. Thanks to all of our supporters and testifiers, including Bayaud Enterprises, Good Business Colorado, Center for Work Education and Employment (CWEE), the Curtis Hotel Sage Hospitality and Countless others. HB 1107 now moves to the House Appropriations Committee.

– By Bob Mook

Recent articles

25th anniversary recap

On August 10, 2023, CCLP celebrated our 25th anniversary, bringing friends new and old to the Carriage House at the Governor's Residence.

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.