Senate Version of Health Reform Jeopardizes Colorado Kids

Yesterday, the Senate released a draft of their health reform bill. As expected, this bill closely mirrors the bill passed by the House last month. A vote on the Senate floor could happen as early as next Wednesday, which is not enough time to allow for careful analysis of a bill that will impact one-sixth of the nation’s economy and the health insurance coverage of millions of Americans. The draft bill released yesterday will not improve health insurance coverage or access to health care for Colorado kids. It will lead to hundreds of thousands of Coloradans losing their health insurance and will blow a hole in the state budget. We are following the Senate process closely and will be in touch early next week with actions that you can take to help protect health care for Colorado families.

This draft bill presented by the Senate would have a profound impact on children and families in Colorado:

  • It would institute draconian cuts to our Medicaid program, which covers nearly half of Colorado kids at some point in a year. These cuts become especially harsh in 2025 – one of the last years of this “budget window” which will be analyzed by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. This means that the coverage loss found by the CBO will not account for the full loss of health insurance caused by the bill, which will become clear only after additional years have passed. Further, these cuts will force states to make impossible choices about continuing coverage for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities as the federal government stops paying its share of Medicaid costs.
  • It would phase out the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which allowed Colorado to expand coverage to adults, including parents, up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or $32,718 for a family of four. The Senate version proposes a slower phase-out of the expansion than the House bill, but the result is the same – an end to the Medicaid expansion, and shifting costs to states to fill this financial gap.
  • It would jeopardize access to prenatal care, newborn care, mental health care and substance abuse services.
  • It would reduce the tax credits available for the purchase of health insurance so that Colorado families are spending more to buy coverage that will cover less of their health care costs. The proposal would also take away tax credits for those with incomes between 350 and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, which helps families afford the cost of health insurance, especially in high-cost areas.
  • Uses the CHIP program to run dollars through for a “State Stability and Innovation Program,” a program that has nothing to do with CHIP and will create administrative burdens for states in administering the CHIP program.
Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash, Legislative |


Report: Early Childhood Education Unites American Voters

The First Five Years Fund released its 2017 national bipartisan poll that examined American voters’ attitudes towards early childhood education. At a time when divisive rhetoric, calls for resistance, and partisan distrust dominate the political headlines across the country, the poll demonstrates broad, bipartisan public support for investing in quality early childhood education from birth through age five. In fact, the report found 79 percent of voters—including 80 percent of Trump voters and 79 percent of Clinton voters—want Congress and the administration to work together to improve the quality of child care and preschool and make it more affordable for parents.

In addition, the poll found 89 percent of voters support making quality early education for children from birth through age five, including child care, more affordable for working families to give children a strong start in life. Early childhood education, including child care and preschool, has emerged as a unifying issue among American voters of every political persuasion. Read the full report here.

Eighty-nine percent of voters support making quality early education for children from birth through age five, including child care, more affordable for working families to give children a strong start. This support transcends partisan lines:

data1 data2 data3

Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash, Research |


Learn more about the quality of your child’s school

Want to understand more about the quality of your child’s school? Join the Colorado Children’s Campaign and the Colorado Education Initiative for a Data 101 skill building workshop on Monday, June 26 at the Corky Gonzales Library. Participants will develop skills to better understand and analyze both school and district level data. Dinner will be provided. To register click here or contact Stephanie Perez-Carrillo at stephanie@coloradokids.org for more information. Registration has been extended to Friday, June 23

Data 101 Invitation

Posted in K-12 Education, KidsFlash, Outreach, Research |


Fast Fact- June 23, 2016

Colorado’s infant mortality rate decreased by 19 percent during the past decade, to 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015. Infant mortality refers to the death of a baby before his or her first birthday, and it reflects many factors important to both maternal and child well-being, including access to high-quality health care, nutrition and safe environments. Although Colorado’s infant mortality rate remains consistently below the national average, rates vary widely by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and geography. To find more detailed data about infant mortality in your county, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

Posted in Fast Facts, KidsFlash |


ACTION ALERT: Ask our Senators to Protect Colorado Kids in Health Reform Debate

We need you! PLEASE CALL OUR SENATORS TODAY to ask them to ensure that federal health reform protects Colorado Kids. Senate efforts to pass federal health reform—modeled on the American Health Care Act passed by the House last month—are heating up. The Senate may vote on final legislation next week, which could be sent to the President for his signature before the 4th of July.

Phone numbers are below – please call now.

Our Senators need to hear from you – they need to hear your personal stories and why Medicaid and affordable health insurance are important to families in your community. While a draft of the legislation has not been released, there are several elements of the policy conversation that could jeopardize health care for kids in Colorado.

If you would like more background on the current debate in the Senate, feel free to watch this recorded webinar where Erin Miller, our Vice President of Health Initiatives, describes the Senate bill process and areas of concern for Colorado kids.

Call Senator Gardner: 202-224-5941 – emphasize any of these points that speak to you:

  • Your personal stories about why Medicaid and affordable health insurance are important in your community.
  • The need for transparency and expert review – Senators should not reshape one sixth of the U.S. economy and health insurance coverage of millions of people without sufficient time for review of the final bill language. Senators need to review and so do we.
  • Medicaid funding is essential to protect Colorado kids and parents. The proposed restructuring of Medicaid financing will shift costs to the states, force states to make impossible choices, and kids will get hurt.
  • Colorado will be punished for our efficiency. We would be punished for being a low-spending state per capita in our Medicaid program, especially for our kids. Our past efficiency would mean that we were forever getting a smaller piece of the pie.
  • Medicaid is most important in our rural areas and an important tool in helping our communities deal with the rise in opioid addiction.
  • Colorado will be particularly harmed by our constitutional financial constraints.
  • Tax credits need to make coverage more affordable in our rural areas.

Call Senator Bennet: 202-224-5097

  • Thank him for his commitment to Colorado kids.
  • Tell him that we need him to do everything he can as a member of the Senate to ensure there is time for review and careful analysis of the bill, and its impact on Colorado kids, before a vote.
Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash, Legislative |


National KIDS COUNT Data Book: Well-being of Colorado kids in middle of the pack, despite economic gains

Colorado’s national ranking of 22nd in overall child well-being reveals that health and prosperity don’t extend to all children. The 2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that kids in other states are benefiting more from gains in economic well-being, education, health and family and community indicators.

Colorado’s ranking in economic well-being fell from 12th in 2016 to 16th in 2017, as the state showed little improvement relative to the nation in child poverty, the percentage of families burdened by housing costs and the percentage of teens not in school and not working. Read more about Colorado’s rankings in our press release, or go straight to the full report from AECF.

We’ve created an online interactive feature to help you explore the rankings and data. Click here to explore it; use the filters on the right to see how Colorado compares to other states on indicators of child well-being

 

 

Click Here to see the full data.

Posted in K-12 Education, KidsFlash, News Release |


All hands on deck for the federal health reform debate

Senate efforts to pass federal health reform—modeled on the American Health Care Act passed by the House last month—are heating up. We are increasingly concerned about the rapid Senate timeline for bringing a bill to the floor for a vote and the secretive process surrounding the bill drafting. We want our network to be ready for a rapid response next week. Please save some time on your calendar next week to call your Senator, and keep an eye out for additional information from us early next week.

Based on current reports, the Senate bill retains many of the most-harmful pieces of the House-passed version of the bill. A major concern is the conversion of Medicaid funding to per capita caps and phasing out federal Medicaid expansion funding. We have written before about the grave impacts of the House bill, which would cause 23 million Americans to lose health insurance coverage. Approximately half of all kids in Colorado are covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program for at least part of the year. And the program is .

The bill passed by the House would cut $800 billion in federal funding for Medicaid, shifting costs to states. There is no way to impose these cuts on the Medicaid program without impacting coverage for kids in Colorado who need it most. The Colorado Health Institute estimated that Colorado would lose $340 million in federal funding in 2020 under the House-passed bill. The bill also opens the door for insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, putting kids with asthma, diabetes, heart defects and other conditions at risk. It also turns back the clock to a time when insurers could deny coverage for life-saving treatments by imposing annual and lifetime caps.

Remarkably, Senate Republican leadership will reportedly keep the bill text secret until the last possible moment—potentially unveiling the text only mid-way through the debate on repeal, and just hours before members are expected to vote on final passage. It is likely that Senate leadership will try to bring the bill to the floor for a vote the week of the June 26. Therefore, we will be reaching out to you next week to ask Senators Gardner and Bennet that they ensure that there is enough time for all of us to see the final language of the Senate bill, understand its impact on kids in Colorado with the benefit of an analysis from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, and provide our input into the bill.

Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash, Legislative |


CDPHE launches new resource for local-level immunizations data

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment this week launched a comprehensive new database containing data on immunization and exemption rates for nearly every Colorado school and school district, as well as for preschools, child care centers and Head Start programs serving more than 10 children.

The database is a result of a 2014 bill for which the Children’s Campaign advocated alongside several other partners. It provides parents and advocates with a first-of-its-kind glimpse into how immunization rates vary at the local level. Users can examine immunization rates for specific vaccines, as well as exemption rates for three types of exemptions—personal belief exemptions, exemptions for medical reasons, or religious exemptions.

Key takeaways from the database include:

  • At the school district level, the percent of students whose families claimed an exemption from at least one immunization ranged from zero in the Campo, Eads, Karval and Yuma school districts to nearly 25 percent of students in Moffat School District 2, located in Saguache County. The vast majority of exemptions in Colorado are personal belief exemptions, which are permitted by only 18 other states.
  • Eight child care centers and preschools—primarily located in large Front Range counties—had exemption rates of more than 33 percent, meaning one in three young children in these settings lacked up-to-date immunizations.
  • Approximately 86 percent of schools and 75 percent of preschools and child care centers reported the required immunizations data to CDPHE.

For more analysis of the new immunizations data, click here to read an article from Chalkbeat. You can also click here to explore the database and find immunization rates for your child’s school or child care center.

Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash |


Colorado’s relationship with student assessment vendor to change

This week, the State Board of Education decided to continue working with the company Pearson to develop and administer statewide assessments in all four core content areas, known as the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS). A committee of educators reviewed vendor applications and selected Pearson, which has administered Colorado’s annual standardized assessment for the last four years. The change means that Colorado will move away from test items developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and use more of its own items, especially following the adoption of the revised standards in 2018.

In December, the Colorado State Board of Education directed CDE staff to find a vendor to administer new state tests that would result in reduced testing time and faster turnaround for results. As a result of the board’s directives, Colorado will retain more state ownership over test content and changes. It is likely the state will keep some PARCC questions on future math and English assessments for students in third grade through eighth grade, and develop and incorporate Colorado-specific items designed by Colorado educators for future assessments.

Leaving the PARCC consortium will have implications for cross-state data comparisons, but from a student and educator point of view, the test will remain largely the same. Results from the 2018 CMAS assessments are expected to be comparable to prior years’ results, creating little disruption to the accountability system.

“Because Pearson has been already providing the testing services for CMAS for a number of years, the transition to the new contract should be seamless for educators and students,” said Katy Anthes, Colorado’s education commissioner, in CDE’s press release about the decision. “Educators and students are familiar with Pearson’s systems, so this will allow them to continue to concentrate on teaching and learning the Colorado Academic Standards, which is the content assessed by the tests.”

This assessment change comes after the state made a bipartisan reduction in overall testing two years ago and aligned ninth grade assessments with college entrance exams in the 2017 legislative session. Ongoing, thoughtful adjustments made by our State Board, CDE and the legislature have protected rigorous assessments aligned to the Colorado Academic Standards and have ensured continuity for our students, educators and accountability system.

2018  Assessments at a Glance

Assessment Grade
CMAS Math and ELA Grades 3-8
CMAS: Science Grades 5, 8 and 11
CMAS: Social Studies Grades 4 and 7 (sampling basis with approximately 1/3 of schools participating)
Grade 11 (all schools currently scheduled to participate)
PSAT Grades 9 and 10
SAT Grade 11
ACCESS for ELLs Grades K-12
Posted in K-12 Education, KidsFlash |


Share your voice: Statewide tour to address educator shortages

The Colorado Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education are embarking on a series of town hall meetings across the state to gather input for a strategic plan to address the educator shortages impacting Colorado.

These meetings will feature a focused discussion on ways to grow our existing educator pipeline and specific strategies to increase the numbers of individuals interested in careers in education. Parents, students, teachers, community members, business leaders and anyone else with an interest in ensuring Colorado’s schools remain strong are welcome to attend and participate. The collection of voices from around the state was required by HB17-1003, which the Children’s Campaign supported.

Additional information on these meetings, as well as an online survey for those unable to attend in person, is available on the DHE website. Future meetings have been scheduled:

  • Parachute: June 23
  • Fort Collins: July 28
  • Denver: July 31 or Aug. 1 (TBD)
  • Leadville: Aug. 2
  • Colorado Springs: Aug. 7
  • Otis: Aug. 10
  • Ignacio: Aug. 14 or 15 (TBD)
  • Limon: Aug. 17 or 18 (TBD)
  • Las Animas: Aug. 21
Posted in K-12 Education, KidsFlash |


 

Featured Partner

Garbarini

1580 Lincoln Street, Suite 420
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 303.839.1580 • Fax: 303.839.1354
Email: info@coloradokids.org