Reflecting on eight years of change in Colorado’s health policy landscape
Last month, we said farewell to Erin Miller, our former Vice President of Health Initiatives. After eight years with the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Erin is joining Community Catalyst, a national health advocacy organization, as Deputy Director of Policy.
Erin’s favorite chart, included below, illustrates how Colorado’s uninsured rate for children has improved as key policy changes have gone into effect over the past two 15 years. In her time with the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Erin and colleagues were deeply involved in advancing this work, along with other policies that supported the health of Colorado kids and families.
Erin shared some reflections on her time at the Children’s Campaign and her hopes for our state’s kids and families.
What are you most proud of in your time working with the Colorado Children’s Campaign?
The growth of our coalition work, including All Kids Covered, the Family Planning Access for All Colorado Coalition and the Maternal Behavioral Health Policy and Financing Coalition. Not only do we maintain standing coalitions around key issue areas, which we often convene or co-convene with partners in the field, we have begun to do our policy drafting and creation together with our partner organizations and, increasingly, while partnering with people who would be directly impacted or who are in and represent communities that would be directly impacted by the policies we are working on.
Time and again these efforts, which are difficult and time-consuming, dramatically improved our policy crafting work, thanks to the brave people who entered our policy spaces and spoke their truth. Some examples include:
- Ensuring that the private coverage expansions secured for undocumented Coloradans through the Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise provided truly affordable coverage, with access focused on low-income individuals.
- Ensuring that the special enrollment period for pregnancy established through Cover All Coloradans would allow an option for retrospective as well as prospective coverage, and also ensuring through that bill that all Medicaid CHIP enrollees would have access to hospital-grade breast pumps.
- Guaranteeing 12 months of coverage to individuals leaving Colorado prisons through our continuous eligibility bill. I had not previously done a lot of policy work with folks who had been involved in the criminal justice system, but roughly half of them are parents. We must remove barriers to needed health services for these folks.
What is your favorite memory from your time with the organization?
In general, being part of an organization that isn’t afraid to try big things, even if it means we don’t always succeed, because, really, we so often do. Knowing that the worst that can happen is that something doesn’t work and we learn and try again. For example, working with an organization and with partners in the field who were not afraid to go swinging to ensure affordable private health coverage was available to undocumented Coloradans – even in an election year.
What’s changed most in Colorado’s health policy landscape in the last 8 years?
I think that while there is still work to do, there has been a growing sense that we’re all in this together. When I started in this role, we had a split legislature and so needed bipartisan support for our health policies. I had the opportunity to work with dedicated lawmakers from both parties who fought, and sacrificed, to expand access to family planning services and reduce barriers to school lunches. And in recent years, together with our amazing partner organizations, we’ve been able to secure substantial health insurance coverage expansions for undocumented Coloradans – always with bipartisan votes and with hardly a word spoken in public against our undocumented neighbors and friends. I think that the pandemic, helped, to an extent, in showing folks that the well-being of your neighbor and your kids’ child care teacher quite literally impacts your own health and well-being.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would you wish for to support the health of Colorado kids and families?
- Establish universal affordable, high quality, continuous and equitable health insurance coverage with minimal administrative burdens across the system.
- Provide guaranteed financial security for all Coloradans, with extra support for families with young children who need it.
- Ensure that pregnant, birthing and postpartum women and others receive high-quality care that centers their needs, desires and preferences without them needing to have or to be a strong advocate.
- Eliminate TABOR so that the state legislature can reclaim the true “power of the purse” and make full decisions around state revenue and investments.
- Make sure that kids of all ages – very young children and youth – have easily accessible, high-quality ways to spend their non-school time.
Thanks for your work, Erin, and good luck!
Erin's Favorite Health Insurance Slide - updated 42323