CFPB Proposes Prohibiting Inclusion of Medical Debt on Consumer’s Credit Reports
On August 10, 2023, CCLP celebrated our 25th anniversary, bringing friends new and old to the Carriage House at the Governor's Residence.
Katie Wallat, CCLP’s Senior Attorney, provided testimony at the August 11, 2023, meeting of the Medical Services Board.
HB23-1126 provides first-in-the-nation protections for Coloradans with medical debt.
Student-built app to assist Coloradans appeal SNAP overpayment decisions
SnappyNav, developed as law school class project, now available to the public.
DENVER, CO — August 8, 2023 — Law students at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law today publicly released a groundbreaking web app to help SNAP recipients navigate the complex administrative court system for appealing SNAP overpayment decisions.
SnappyNav explains difficult concepts, legal terms, and rights, with step-by-step instructions for recipients facing potentially severe legal and financial liabilities. Using plain language (English and Spanish), the app helps users understand the avenues available to them, depending on their specific circumstances.
This resource, remarkably, began its life as a class project. The class, led by Professor Lois Lupica, examined potential uses of technology to make legal issues more accessible for people experiencing poverty.
“Public benefits recipients have few resources available to help them understand their options when faced with claims of overpayment,” said Professor Lupica. “The byzantine legal process to appeal these claims is conducted outside traditional courts, involving administrative hearings endured with limited information and typically without the benefit of a lawyer. The students determined there was an opportunity to help recipients by providing better information.”
The student team engaged outside resources along the way. Students worked closely with LaQuetta Walker, social worker and longtime public policy advocate with first-hand appeal experience of her own. According to Walker, “Our goal with SnappyNav was to ensure those faced with overpayment claims would have accurate information about the process.” Importantly, she noted, the team aimed to present that information in an accessible, user-friendly format, “to minimize stress to SNAP participants.”
For outside legal expertise, the student team partnered with Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP). For 25 years, CCLP has fought for the rights of those experiencing poverty in Colorado, through research, legislative, legal, and regulatory advocacy efforts. Much of CCLP’s recent work has highlighted the challenges of claims of overpayments.
“Overpayments can occur for many reasons, intentional or accidental. They can even occur when an agency itself miscalculates the amount a household is eligible for,” said Bethany Pray, CCLP Senior Legal Director. “No matter the reason, however, when an overpayment is identified, the recipient must pay that amount – sometimes tens of thousands of dollars – back.”
The need for resources assisting those facing claims of overpayment couldn’t be greater. A 2022 CCLP report entitled Barriers, Errors, & Due Process Denied revealed that Colorado faces one of the worst agency error rates in the country. Despite a process riddled with errors, as of 2019, fewer than 300 people annually completed the appeal process.
Jennifer Edmunds, a student involved in the app’s creation, expressed the team’s hope that the public launch of SnappyNav would assist more Coloradans in understanding and exercising their right to appeal. “Since Colorado currently has no online resources to help recipients understand the SNAP overpayment process, it was extremely important for us to tailor the app in a way that would truly help someone facing an overpayment. Helping our Colorado community break down an access-to-justice problem was one of the most rewarding experiences of our law school journey.”
The DU-hosted app may be found at udenver.neotalogic.com/a/SNAPoverpaymentnavigator.
About Lois Lupica
Lois R. Lupica is the Director of the Law + Innovation Lab at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and the Maine Law Foundation Professor of Law, Emerita at the University of Maine School of Law. In 2019 she received a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award through which she researched access to justice and technology at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Professor Lupica is an Affiliated Faculty member of the Harvard Law School Access to Justice Lab, Co-Principal Investigator of the Financial Distress Research Study, and Co-Principal Investigator of the Princeton Debt Lab. From 2022 to 2023, she served as a CCLP Visiting Scholar. She has published articles on topics including access to justice, bankruptcy, consumer finance, securitization, property and contract theory, intellectual property in commerce, secured transactions, legal ethics, as well as a leading Casebook on Bankruptcy Law & Practice.