Mar 3, 2017

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: March 3, 2017

by | Mar 3, 2017

Bill to Watch: HB 1187
In Colorado, the constitutional amendment commonly known as the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (or TABOR) makes it nearly impossible to inject new funding for essentials such as health care, roads and affordable housing. Not only is the amendment a perennial source of frustration for legislators working to balance a state budget that meets the needs of their constituents, but TABOR’s budgetary constraints hurt low-income (and indeed, all) Coloradans.

House Bill 1187, sponsored by Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction, would bring to voters a rational if not comprehensive fix to the spending constraints imposed by TABOR. The legislation refers a proposition to Colorado voters to change the methodology for computing state revenues cap for fiscal year 2017-18 and all subsequent years.

If approved by voters in the November, 2017 election, the measure would allow the annual adjustment in the state revenue caps to be based on the average of the annual change in Colorado personal income over the previous five years, rather than adjusting for inflation and population. Although the state would still be issuing TABOR refunds during the next two fiscal years, the measure would decrease the state’s refund obligation by an estimated $132 million in fiscal year 2017-18 and by $209 million in fiscal year 2018-19.

Tying the growth in state budget to the growth of personal income instead of population and the Consumer Price Index makes sense. The CPI measures a basket of consumer goods, while personal income growth reflects salaries. The cost of consumer goods doesn’t reflect increases in the state’s cost of providing services or purchasing equipment. In addition, health care costs have long grown faster than the average basket of goods.

While HB 1187 would not eliminate TABOR refunds or address revenue shortfalls, it would reduce the size of refunds during a period in which the state is not adequately addressing the needs of its residents. The bill was approved by the House Finance Committee by a vote of 10-3. CCLP supports the legislation.

On the Radar
Two bills developed by CCLP advanced in the Colorado legislature this week.

On Monday, the House Finance Committee approved HB 1002 by a vote of 12-1. The bill, which now goes to the House Appropriations Committee, would extend the child care tax credit for workers earning less than $25,000 for three more income tax years. If signed into law, this measure would help Colorado’s low-income parents with young children afford child care and help them stay in the workforce.

After winning approval from the House, another CCLP-backed bill, HB 1143 cleared its first hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday with a 5-0 vote from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Sponsored by Rep. Lois Landgraf, R-Fountain, and Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, HB 1143 would direct the state to audit Medicaid communications with clients. These audits would review Medicaid notices for legal sufficiency, clarity and accuracy. Audit findings, conclusions and recommendations will be presented to legislative committees, which can then consider whether the results warrant further reforms.

The bill is part of a package intended to address shortcomings in client correspondence and notifications when Medicaid benefits are about to be changed or terminated. The package was developed by CCLP and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition during last summer’s Interim Committee on Medicaid Client Correspondence.

– 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.