Colorful Commentary

Federal Budget Watch, June 12

Posted June 12, 2017 by Samantha Curran

binoculars-954021_1280With six weeks scheduled before the August recess in Congress, we are entering an intense summer facing serious threats to programs that provide basic assistance to struggling families across all areas of our work, including:

  • The repeal of the Affordable Care Act with its Medicaid expansion
  • Harmful structural changes to key programs, such as Medicaid and SNAP
  • Deep budget cuts to discretionary and entitlements programs – the Trump Budget cut SNAP, TANF, Social Services Block Grant, SSI and SSDI as well as cutting Medicaid beyond the House repeal bill cuts
  • Massive tax cuts for the wealthy that could force deeper budget cuts either now or in the future

Here are the latest details from our friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Health Timing Update

Senate Republican leaders continue to work on reaching agreement among their members on modifications to the House health care bill and to bring this legislation to the floor in the last week of June. There are growing indications that the Senate bill is likely to retain much of the House passed bill.

With respect to Medicaid, it is expected that like the House bill, the Senate bill will cut Medicaid deeply by ending the expansion and converting the program’s structure to a Per Capita Cap. We do expect some modification to the House Medicaid provisions. For example, some Republican Senators from Medicaid expansion states have suggested a slower phase out of the higher Medicaid match for the expansion than the House approach, but this will make little difference in either the short or long run as compared to the House version.

We are deeply alarmed at the very real possibility that the Senate Republican substitute will not be unveiled until the end of the debate in the Senate, providing little time for the public to understand the impact of the proposal for their states.

Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Timing

While the Senate is focused on negotiating a health care repeal bill, House Republican leaders have begun working on their FY18 budget resolution. There had been reports of a possible mark-up in late June, though we believe this may well slip until later this summer. Even if markup is delayed, we understand that decisions about when and how to move forward are currently being discussed, so we must act quickly to ensure that the House budget resolution does not include harmful “reconciliation instructions” – a provision that would create a fast-track process for legislation that cuts entitlements or cuts taxes.

Right now, we are focused on the very serious risk that this budget resolution could include reconciliation instructions that would require Congress to make deep cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, and other poverty-reduction programs while at the same time allowing Congress to pass large tax cuts that could lead to additional funding cuts in the future.

Alarming new press reports emerged last week in which some House and Senate members indicated that they want tax cuts to be paid for, at least in part, with cuts in entitlement programs. Jim Jordan, leader of the House Freedom Caucus, called for tax cuts to be paid for by cuts in safety net entitlements, with support from Sen. Hatch, chair of the Finance Committee.

With these important Member-level discussions underway in the House, it’s very important for Members to be hearing from groups and constituents back home about the importance of rejecting any budget that:

  • Requires cuts in key programs that helps struggling families afford the basics, including food on the table, a roof over their heads, and access to health care.
  • Paves the way for fast-track tax cuts that will lose revenue (causing deep spending cuts in the future) and that benefit mostly the wealthy and corporations.

President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 Proposal

President Trump released his budget proposal on May 23rd. As a reminder, the budget proposal contained the largest dollar cuts to programs for low- and moderate-income people proposed by any President’s budget in the modern era, getting three-fifths (59 percent) of the budget’s cuts would come from these programs (food assistance, health care, housing, etc.) that help low- and moderate-income families afford the basics or improve their upward mobility.

The Trump budget called for more than $193 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next ten years ― a more than 25 percent cut – through a massive cost shift to states, cutting eligibility for millions of households, and reducing benefits for hundreds of thousands more. It would also cut “non-defense discretionary” programs by $57 billion next year (as compared to 2017 funding levels) and even more over the next decade, while giving massive tax cuts heavily skewed toward the wealthy. And contrary to the budget rhetoric, it would make it harder for many to climb economic ladder, with cuts in job training and a range of other proposals making it harder for people to succeed in the labor market while hurting the millions of program participants already working.

While the Trump budget proposal has been panned as “dead on arrival,” it’s important to note that it’s broadly consistent with House-passed Republican budgets in recent years.

Debt Ceiling

Last month, the Trump administration warned policymakers that the government will likely hit the debt ceiling sooner than expected and is requesting that Congress act on the debt ceiling it before the August recess.

Many conservative Republicans are insisting on tying any increase in the debt ceiling to new entitlement cuts and/or harmful budget process reforms.

House Speaker Ryan said he’s “reserving all options” and among those being proposed according to press accounts are: caps on mandatory spending, extending across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, and matching any debt limit increase with an equivalent amount of spending reductions, a balanced budget amendment, adding work requirements to government assistance programs. All of these will make the debt ceiling much more controversial and run the risk of a government default of the parties can’t reach agreement.

CHN sign-on announcement


President Trump’s administration is planning to cut funding for policies and programs that our communities rely on. These are not small threats: the clean air we breathe and the clean water we drink, the healthcare for the neediest among us via Medicaid, the food for the hungry via SNAP, the shelter we provide through rental assistance. These and so many more services are on the chopping block.

We MUST oppose these cuts, We MUST make sure our voices are heard, and we are loudest and most effective when we Stand Together.

To do this, organizations, coalitions and campaigns are coming together from many different parts of our community on a national sign-on letter asking that Congress safeguard the policies and programs we and our neighbors rely on in the FY 2018 Budget.

If your organization has not yet signed, please do so here. Deadline to sign is June 19th

You can read the letter and find a current list of signers here.

Our ability to protect the programs and services that provide basic living standards for millions of Americans depends on all of us Standing Together.


Contact info for Colorado congressional delegation:

Sen. Cory Gardner – 303-391-5777  Email here.

Sen. Michael Bennet – 303-455-7600 / 866-455-9866 Email here.

Rep. Diana DeGette (CO District 1) –  303-844-4988 Email here.

Rep. Jared Polis (CO District 2) – 303-484-9596  Email here.

Rep. Scott Tipton (CO District 3) – 970-241-2499 Email here.

Rep. Ken Buck (CO District 4) – 970-702-2136   Email here.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO District 5) – 719-520-0055   Email here.

Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6) – 720-748-7514  Email here.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter  (CO District 7) – 303-274-7944 Email here.

Federal Budget Watch, May 24

Posted May 24, 2017 by Samantha Curran

President Trump released his full budget plan yesterday, which slashes nutrition, health care and other important assistance programs that help millions meet a basic living standard. With the help from our friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), we have more detail on the President’s budget, as well as an update on Senate health reform developments below.   

President Trump’s Budgetbinoculars-954021_1280

As CBPP President Bob Greenstein’s statement outlines, the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget “proposes steep cuts in basic health, nutrition, and other important assistance for tens of millions of struggling, low- and modest-income Americans, even as it calls for extremely large tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest people and profitable corporations… In fact, this stands as the most radical, Robin-Hood-in-reverse budget that any modern President has ever proposed.”

Among the lowlights, the President’s budget:

  • Slashes food assistance (SNAP) by $193 billion over ten years and shifts the cost of more than $100 billion of SNAP benefits, a long time federal responsibility, to the states.
  • Cuts Medicaid by $600 billion over ten years—on top of the already-massive cuts in Medicaid and subsidies for private health coverage in the House-passed bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that President Trump supports and incorporates into his budget. These additional cuts would almost certainly increase the number of uninsured and would shift significant Medicaid costs to states on top of the giant cost shift in the House health bill.

Timing on Health Care

While Senate Majority Leader McConnell would like to bring a health reform proposal to the Senate floor in June, various reports indicate this could easily slip until July.

Today’s release of the CBO analysis of the House-passed bill, will kick off a process within the Senate, including consultations with the Parliamentarian about which aspects of that bill violate the Senate’s reconciliation rules. That process could take a few weeks.

We do know that intense conversations are happening in the Senate around their proposed bill now – which is why we view these next few weeks as incredibly crucial in impacting those conversations by lifting up and amplifying the opposition to ALL of the harmful proposals in this bill.

Senate Negotiations

Sen. McConnell’s appointed Republican working group to design a health reform bill as a replacement to the House’s AHCA bill, has reportedly been meeting very frequently, focusing on a wide array of issues including Medicaid; private market reforms; affordability, etc. There are some signals that the group is not close to an agreement, and that there are growing differences among Republicans on some key issues.

Several press reports confirm that some Republican senators from Medicaid expansion states are working to develop changes and improvements to the House’s Medicaid provisions.

Yet, as of now, it does not appear that this group – or any senator within – is willing to oppose eliminating the Medicaid expansion (e.g. the higher match) or converting the program to a per capita cap. The ideas that the press reports mention from this group, include delaying the effective dates and other relatively minor adjustments.

It appears that there are three particularly salient and politically-powerful harmful impacts of the House’s harmful Medicaid changes among some key Republican senators:

  1. the opioid crisis
  2. rural communities
  3. seniors, especially very elderly, poor Americans

What’s Next & How You Can Help:

CBO Score:

First, the CBO analysis offers yet another opportunity to highlight that the House bill will cause millions of Americans to lose Medicaid coverage. The CBO score estimates that in 2018, 14 million more people will be uninsured under the American Health Care Act than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026. We must use that fact to pressure the Senate to reject the House changes and protect Medicaid.

A summary of the CBO score can be found here:

Memorial Day Recess:

Second, the Memorial Day recess could be the last recess before the full Senate takes up health reform (even though it could slip), so we need to use it to the maximum extent possible to continue your terrific efforts to educate our senators about the impact of the House changes in Medicaid.

In the coming weeks, and during Recess, ideas and asks for engagement on Medicaid include:

  • Continue to call our Senators to ask them to commit to not voting for something that would violate our core principles (below)
  • Participate in House member “accountability” events – it will be important to show House members who voted for AHCA that we won’t forget their vote; this also sends an important message to our Senators as well
  • Write a letter to our Senators asking them to commit to the below principles
  • Call, email and tweet at our Senators with the same message
  • Commit to get five friends to do the same

We continue to think the most effective message is the one we have shared before: please ask our senators to COMMIT opposing any bill that:

  1. Reduces coverage for millions of Americans; OR
  2. Effectively ends Medicaid expansion (no matter how delayed the effective date is) by phasing out the higher federal funding match; OR
  3. Effectively ends the Medicaid program by converting it to a per capita cap or block grants; OR
  4. Makes individual market coverage less affordable for low- and moderate-income people

The “ASK”:

  • Cory Gardner, Republican Senator
    • With Colorado’s decision to take part in the Medicaid expansion, it is particularly important to stress that simply delaying the effective dates of the House provisions (such as phasing out federal funding) or making other relatively minor adjustments to the end of the expansion or the per capita cap (PCC) are just unacceptable.
    • There is no policy justification to end the highly successful Medicaid expansion or convert the program to a cap that will lead to the rationing of Medicaid services to the elderly, people with disabilities, and children.
  • Michael Bennet, Democratic Senator
    • Democratic senators can play a vital role in this debate by continuing to lift up the harmful impact of the House Medicaid provisions in Colorado.

In the coming days, we will continue to update you on important developments and the state of play, along with sharing relevant information and messaging to help impact ongoing Senate negotiations and help keep the pressure on our Senators!

Thank you again for your hard work and willingness to keep going.

Contact info for Colorado congressional delegation:

Sen. Cory Gardner – 303-391-5777  Email here.

Sen. Michael Bennet – 303-455-7600 / 866-455-9866 Email here.

Rep. Diana DeGette (CO District 1) –  303-844-4988 Email here.

Rep. Jared Polis (CO District 2) – 303-484-9596  Email here.

Rep. Scott Tipton (CO District 3) – 970-241-2499 Email here.

Rep. Ken Buck (CO District 4) – 970-702-2136   Email here.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO District 5) – 719-520-0055   Email here.

Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6) – 720-748-7514  Email here.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter  (CO District 7) – 303-274-7944 Email here.

The 2017 Session: A Victory for Public Investments

Posted May 16, 2017 by Carol Hedges

By CFI Staff

Colorado Capitol 3Here’s a summary of bills on which CFI played a role this year:

SB 17-267 – Sustainability of Rural Colorado (Sens. Guzman & Sonnenberg, Reps. Becker K. & Becker J.)

The most significant act by the 2017 General Assembly was the passage of SB 267, a bipartisan fiscal compromise designed to protect access to hospital care for rural Coloradans and provide an infusion of capital for transportation and capital construction. This measure came together late in the session and was on and off the respirator many times during its journey to the governor’s desk. SB 267 is an example of the kinds of deals we haven’t seen lately, the horse-trading of priorities. SB 267 is remarkable, as it embodies compromise across parties and among priorities.

CFI played the role of trusted adviser throughout SB 267’s journey. We were consulted for our technical expertise on the fiscal policy details of the bill and worked with other stakeholders to understand, explain and refine the bill. Though there were tough compromises made on all sides, we are ultimately very glad the bill passed.

The following outlines the most significant components of SB 267:

Hospital Provider Fee Enterprise

The centerpiece of the bill reconstitutes the Hospital Provider Fee as an enterprise and will have the effect of reducing TABOR revenue by $865 million and reducing the revenue cap by $200 million. This change will take TABOR revenue below the cap, eliminating TABOR rebates of $264 million in FY 2017-18. In addition to eliminating rebates, it means the state will earn $264 million in federal matching funds. This provision is estimated to provide $264 million more general fund dollars for public investments in FY 2017-18 and $288.6 million in 2018-19.

Marijuana Tax Provisions

SB 267 creates a state sales tax exemption for the sale of recreational marijuana products. In place of the state sales tax, the special, voter-approved sales tax on marijuana will be increased by 2.9 percentage points. The legislature can make this change because Prop AA allows the legislature to raise the rate as high as 15 percent and any revenue raised will NOT count as TABOR-defined spending. This provision will reduce TABOR revenue by approximately $30 million dollars, meaning the state will have more room to keep collected revenue before it must be returned to voters.

SB 267 contains other language that affects marijuana taxes. It makes a couple of changes in the current special sales tax rate, which is set to fall from 10 percent to 8 percent on July 1. SB 267 would keep the rate from falling to 8 percent and would set the new rate at 15 percent.

Recreational marijuana purchasers will experience an increase in the total state sales tax rate from 12.9 percent to 15 percent. The net new revenue generated from recreational marijuana taxes is approximately $40 million in FY 17-18. This revenue will provide the funding for the bill’s increases in school funding and for the increased exemption for business personal property taxes.

Senior Homestead Property Tax Exemption

SB 267 makes the Senior Homestead Exemption a TABOR rebate mechanism in any year when TABOR revenue exceeds the cap. If TABOR revenue is below the cap, the Senior Homestead Exemption will be paid from general fund revenue, as it is now. When we have TABOR rebates, the provision will free up approximately $150 million in general fund revenue and reduce taxpayer refunds by an equivalent amount.

Certificates of Participation

SB 267 authorizes the use of Certificates of Participation (COPs) valued at up to $2 billion for transportation and capital construction. The COPs require debt payments for 20 years. SB 267 identifies $100 million in general fund revenue and $50 million in highway funds for debt repayment. The general fund obligation will ramp up from $9 million in FY 2018-19 to $100 million by FY 2021-22.

Business Personal Property Tax

SB 267 reduces business personal property tax liability for businesses with business personal property valued at less than $18,000. The state will reimburse local governments for the loss of property tax collections. The cost to the state will be approximately $21 million annually. This new state obligation will be funded by the changes in the voter-approved marijuana sales taxes.

School Funding

Requires $30 million of new marijuana revenue be transferred to the State Public School Fund to be used for rural schools in FY 2018-18. These state obligations will be funded by the increases in recreational marijuana taxes. For subsequent years, the marijuana sales tax revenue transferred to the fund can be used for all school districts as part of the state’s share of total program funding for schools.

Medicaid Copays

SB 267 increases cost-sharing provisions for certain Medicaid services, including outpatient services and pharmacy services, consistent with federal law. Beginning in 2018, the bill requires that copays be double relative to their 2016 levels. This would take the average pharmacy copay from $1.25 to $2.50 for Medicaid clients.

HB 17-1187 – Change Excess State Revenue Cap Growth Factor (Rep. Thurlow, Sen. Crowder)

Another very significant bill for CFI during the 2017 session was HB 17-1187. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Larry Crowder, proposed to modernize the current TABOR formula by tying allowable revenue growth to personal income rather than the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Personal income is a much more accurate indicator of economic growth. The proposed change would have been sent to voters on the November ballot.

In most states, during good times, revenue generated by normal economic growth can be used to restore the size of their rainy day funds (a state’s savings account), to restore cuts that had to be made during lean times and to invest in innovations and improvements, in addition to paying normal ongoing costs for teachers, road repairs and health care. But in Colorado, the rules are different. The current TABOR formula says revenue can’t grow faster than increases in population and consumer inflation. This perpetual challenge would have been addressed by linking allowed investments to economic activity measured by total state personal income. The change could have made a real difference in the ability of the state to recover from the impact of economic downturns.

CFI worked closely with Rep. Thurlow on the development of the bill. We testified in favor of the bill in House Finance Committee as well as in the Senate State, Military and Veterans Committee, where it died on a party-line vote.

We were disappointed voters were not given the opportunity to have input on the how their money is to be used. We are encouraged, however, with what appears to be a growing bipartisan, geographically diverse consensus that our fiscal rules need to be adapted to better reflective changing economic conditions.

HB 17-1191 – Demographic notes (Reps. Becker & Herod, Sen. Donovan)

One of the bills CFI drafted and worked on from the ground floor was HB 17-1191. What began as “equity impact statements” turned into a bill that would create “demographic notes.” Demographic notes are an effective and innovative way to examine the impacts of potential legislation on different demographics, including race, gender, age, income, disability status and geography. By studying disparities in these areas, lawmakers would be better equipped to ensure their policies are truly targeted at the Coloradans they are intended to benefit.

Similar evaluations have been used across the country.

In Minneapolis, the local board of education used an equity assessment in its decision-making process related to reorganizing school enrollment and transportation routes in the public school district. Using this tool, the school board was able to identify how new school initiatives could minimize adverse consequences and racial disparities while saving money for the schools. Iowa and Connecticut have incorporated similar evaluations into the development of all new sentencing laws. And King County in Washington uses an “equity impact review tool” to ensure equity is a key component in the development and implementation of new policies, programs and funding decisions within the county.

This bill passed on a party-line vote in both House Finance and on the House floor. The bill sparked an interesting discussion on the floor when a legislator stated bills like this, which point out disparities, create “class warfare” because we are all simply “Coloradans and Americans” and that is all we need to know. Several members of the House were quick to jump on this argument and point out the disparities that are currently present and the reason this bill is so valuable in illuminating the impacts of legislative policies on different people.

Though the bill was eventually killed in Senate Finance, we hope to work with our sponsors to draft similar legislation in the future.

HB 17-1324 – Education Opportunity Act (Reps. McLachlan & Pettersen, Sen. Todd)

HB 1324, another priority bill for CFI, did two things. First, it would have created a tax incentives for rural Colorado teachers, and second, it helped middle-class families save for college. CFI believes both of these goals are extremely important for Colorado communities, and we were excited to put them together in this bill.

This bill would have created a tax incentive for new teachers to teach in rural Colorado. The incentive began at $1,000 for the first year of teaching and increased every year for five years, ending at $5,000 in year five. When you consider that the average teacher salary at rural schools is $38,000, with some teachers making as little as $28,000, this credit would have made a huge impact on the lives of teachers who want to make a difference in our rural communities.

This bill also provided a one-time $2,500 tax credit to offset the tuition for student teachers in rural Colorado.

And all of this would have been provided with minimal fiscal impact to the state.

The reason for that is because of the second part of this bill, which would have means-tested the Colorado 529 tax deduction and helped middle-class families save for college.

The bill increased the benefits of 529 plans for those earning up to $100,000 per year by doubling their tax benefit from the state. That would have meant that roughly 80 percent of all Colorado earners would be eligible for $2 dollars of tax deduction for every dollar they contribute to a 529 college savings plan. Then the bill would have gradually reduced the deduction as income increases.

It is rare that we have the opportunity to draft a bill that provides a meaningful tax incentive at a minimal fiscal cost. HB 1324 would have made a huge difference in the lives of Colorado families and children, all across the state, and especially in rural Colorado. However, the bill was killed in the Senate finance committee, even after passing through the house with bipartisan support.

The bill was featured in both the Denver Post and on the Colorado News Connection.

We intend to work on this bill over the summer with our partners in the rural education community and hope to bring it back next year with bipartisan support.

HB 17-1242 – Concerning Transportation Funding (Reps. Duran & Mitsch Bush, Sens. Grantham & Baumgartner)

The original “deal” of the legislative session was HB 1242, a bill to send a measure to the ballot to increase sales taxes to fund transportation. This bill, introduced by leadership in both the House and the Senate, would have increased our current sales tax rate by .062 percent to 3.56 percent and would have used the new revenue to bond for transportation funding. The transportation funding was to be split between the state highway fund, local governments and a newly created multi-modal fund.

CFI was supportive of the bill, but was concerned about the regressive nature of the increase in sales taxes. As a result, we testified in favor of a multi-modal fund to partially fund affordable transit for low-income families.

Despite widespread support from bipartisan leadership, business groups, environmental organizations and rural advocates, the bill was met with resistance from a small group of lawmakers who didn’t want to rely on new revenue to fund transportation and instead insisted we could raid the general fund for necessary funds. As a result, the bill was killed in the Senate on a party-line vote.


CFI remained vigilant against bad bills and zombie tax policies that came out this session. We worked to defeat two bills that would strip business personal property tax revenue from rural communities, a bill that would require the General Assembly to prioritize transportation funding above all other priorities, and bills that would move Colorado backwards regarding immigration policy.

SB 17-238 – Notifications Regarding Online Purchases (Sen. Holbert, Reps. Wist & Neville)

In 2010, Colorado passed a notification and reporting law that required online retailers to either collect state sales taxes in Colorado, or give notice to the Department of Revenue and individuals on how much use tax they owe on their online purchases. CFI worked to pass this bill at that time and is excited to see it take effect this year. Unfortunately, not everyone shares our enthusiasm.

SB 238, brought by a large, national group of internet retailers, attempted to eliminate an important compliance standard in the bill, by requiring online retailers to notify only individuals, but not the Department of Revenue about use taxes owed. The bill’s modifications would have taken the “teeth” out of the bill and reversed the progress Colorado has made on the collection of internet sales tax.

CFI testified against this bill in Senate Finance and then in House Finance, where it died on a party-line vote.

SB 17-287 – Endowment Tax Credit (Sen. Priola, Rep. Garnett)

SB 287 was introduced again this year and would have allowed taxpayers an income tax credit for contributions to an eligible endowment fund. While we recognize the good intentions behind this bill, research shows that the effect of this type of tax credit is inequitable and largely benefits only the wealthiest Coloradans in the top income brackets. Furthermore, this bill creates winners and losers within the charitable community as the tax credit incentivizes donors to give disproportionally to charities with an endowment. Frequently, these are the largest organizations with the highest number of assets. Recognizing that the Colorado tax system is already regressive in nature, with low- and middle-income families paying a higher effective tax rate than wealthier individuals, CFI opposed this bill. The bill died on the calendar in House Appropriations.

HB 17-1007 – Tax Benefit Employer CollegeInvest Contribution (Rep. Garnett, Sen. Gardner)

HB 1007 would have created a tax break for employers who contributed to an employee’s 529 CollegeInvest savings plan. CFI dubbed this bill the “Duck, Duck, Goose” bill because it would have allowed employers to take a double deduction for contributions to employees’ college savings plans while simultaneously requiring employees to pay state tax. Employers first duck their tax liability by deducting their contribution as employee compensation. Then, they’d duck their tax liability on an authorized 529 contribution. Meanwhile, employees would then get goosed with the tax on the employer contribution, as it would be considered income to the employee. CFI lobbied against the bill and it was eventually killed by the sponsor in its first committee of reference.

In coalition

HB17-1307 – Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program Wage Replacement (FAMLI) (Rep. Winter, Sen. Moreno)

HB 1307, a CFI priority again this year, would guarantee every Colorado worker up to 12 weeks of wage replacement while taking time to care for themselves, a sick family member or to welcome and bond with a new child. CFI worked closely with coalition leader, 9to5 Colorado, and bill sponsors to provide an estimate of the cost and legal feasibility of the program, and to help find innovative financing solutions that work given Colorado’s unique fiscal constraints. CFI supports paid family and medical leave because mounting research shows that having access to paid leave is good for workers, good for families and good for the economy. Allowing workers to take paid time off to care for themselves or their loved ones saves the state and Colorado employers money in the long run.

The bill passed House Business, House Finance, and House Appropriations after families and businesses told moving stories of the need for paid leave, and others presented extensive research on the benefits. Then, the House passed the bill after a spirited debate. Unfortunately, the FAMLI bill died in Senate State Affairs committee on a party-line vote. With momentum building around the country and in Colorado, we’re sure to see this bill in some form next year and CFI will be there to support it.

Federal Budget Watch, May 5

Posted May 5, 2017 by Samantha Curran

binoculars-954021_1280With the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) passing in the House yesterday, we wanted to take a quick moment to thank you all for your hard work and efforts to defeat this bill. Although we did not get the outcome we wanted, it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge the true successes we’ve had in postponing this passage in the House for as long as we did. With that, we would like to share a message with you from our partners at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) on what’s next.

We now move into the next phase of our efforts as this bill heads to the Senate. We will continue to share additional information and updates, but for now, there are a few important things to know about what we expect in the coming weeks and months:

  • The Senate cannot take up this without a score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) – this score will provide fiscal and coverage impact of this bill
  • From what we understand today, we don’t expect to see that score for a week or two – but once it is released, it will be a very important data point that we will want to collectively lift up
  • While this timeline could very well change, preliminary reports are that the Senate may not take this bill up until June
  • That being said, it is very important to note that we have direct reports that Senate conversations around this bill are well underway – that means key decisions could start being made as early as the next week or two
  • The above point underscores that there will be plenty to do to affect this vote in the near future through additional action and outreach.

While the Republicans have a much smaller margin to contend with than in the House (they only need 51 votes to pass it), we must assume that Sen. McConnell will put together a package that can garner those 51 votes. Much of the conversation around this bill’s prospects in the Senate from pundits and other news media has centered on the fact that it “can’t pass in the Senate” and it’s “dead on arrival in the Senate.”

This line of message is extremely worrying for two reasons:

  1. It allows anyone not following this extremely closely to think this fight is over – that our work is done and we know that to not be true
  2. There is a real and grave risk that the Senate makes a number of changes to the bill, but leaves the most harmful elements of the bill intact. The most glaring example of this is the Senate leaving in the potential for Per capita caps – which would end Medicaid as we know it.

Another example of this is that many Republican Senators are already on record saying they oppose the House bill “as is” and that it needs changes.

We MUST hold Senators accountable for changing the specific, harmful provisions in this bill – rather than allowing them a pass in saying “they don’t support the House bill”. This will make it easier for them to make several changes that either don’t affect the real policy issues with this bill, or make them worse, and pass it while claiming they have changed it.

We must ask Senators to oppose ANY bill or measure in the bill that:

  • Causes millions of Americans to lose healthcare coverage
  • Ends Medicaid expansion funding in states
  • And ends Medicaid as we know it through the use block grants and PCCs to shift costs to states

Please take a moment to read President and founder of CBPP, Bob Greenstein’s, statement on the passage of this bill:

Thank you once again for your tireless energy and work – we live to fight another day and despite today’s vote in the House we are still better positioned than we imagined we would be several months ago. That is due to your hard work and successes to date.


Contact info for Colorado congressional delegation:

Sen. Cory Gardner – 303-391-5777  Email here.

Sen. Michael Bennet – 303-455-7600 / 866-455-9866 Email here.

Rep. Diana DeGette (CO District 1) –  303-844-4988 Email here.

Rep. Jared Polis (CO District 2) – 303-484-9596  Email here.

Rep. Scott Tipton (CO District 3) – 970-241-2499 Email here.

Rep. Ken Buck (CO District 4) – 970-702-2136   Email here.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO District 5) – 719-520-0055   Email here.

Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6) – 720-748-7514  Email here.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter  (CO District 7) – 303-274-7944 Email here.

Federal Budget Watch, May 3

Posted May 3, 2017 by Samantha Curran

binoculars-954021_1280New changes and developments surrounding the AHCA 2.0 bill appears to be “winning back” moderate R no votes. Today is an incredibly crucial day in stopping this bill and your help is needed.

Please call your members of Congress and urge them to vote no. The new bill is still fatally flawed. Don’t let the promise of increased funds for high risk pools fool you. Coverage is at risk for millions.

More information on why this bill is detrimental below. 

According to the latest intel from our partners at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it is very possible the AHCA bill could go to the House and pass tomorrow. In fact, some moderate R members have gone as far as to publicly say they think this bill will pass in the House. Below are some key points on the updated bill:

  1. GOP leadership is indicating they have the votes and both they and the White House are pushing HARD for a vote tomorrow.
  2. The Upton-Long amendment – congressional leaders are reportedly considering adding an additional $8 billion in federal funding for high risk pools, to try to solve the problems the AHCA would create for people with pre-existing conditions. But this would come nowhere close to addressing the bill’s funding shortfalls, or solving the other problems it creates for people with pre-existing conditions. This promises to be a dangerous fig leaf moderates can hide behind to justify voting for this bill.
  3. As of this morning, this change has won back some key House R moderates – Long, Upton, Gosar, Barletta and several New York R’s. The good news is there are still many leaners/undecideds still out there – and the facts/tools are on our side to keep the pressure on them to vote no.
  4. All of the harmful provisions in this bill still exist – this does nothing to address the gutting of subsidies, the taking away of pre-existing condition protections, and the other negative elements of this bill. This is a really important point we need to focus on.

Our Goal Today & How You Can Help:

  • Get moderates who are public NO votes to RE-COMMIT to voting no today. We want to be sure they haven’t been taken in on this addition of funds to the risk pools. If they re-commit as a no, consider a Thank You for standing strong against any bill that does not improve coverage, access and affordability to healthcare.
  • Flood the leaners/undecideds with phone calls, emails, posts, tweets – we recognize this is the work you’ve already been pushing, but it’s working! And if you have anything left in the tank to turn it up a notch, this is the time to make that ask. The goal is to make sure these members know 1) there are MANY people in their district engaged and watching how they will vote 2) it’s not going to be worth it to vote yes on this, because they will be held accountable in their districts.

Background and key points

An earlier amendment to the House bill, offered by Representative MacArthur, would let states waive the ACA’s prohibition on charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums and its requirement that all health insurance plans cover basic services. Now, congressional leaders are reportedly considering adding an additional $8 billion in federal funding to the bill to try to solve the problems that approach would create for people with pre-existing conditions. It’s not clear whether the $8 billion would go toward state high risk pools, or toward some other purpose. But either way, it would come nowhere close to addressing the bill’s funding shortfalls, or solving the other problems it creates for people with pre-existing conditions.

$8 billion falls far short of what is needed to make high-risk pools minimally sustainable. The $8 billion reported increases represent a 6 percent increase in the $130 billion the bill already included for grants to states, funding states could use for high-risk pools. But experts have concluded that – even if all $130 billion were used for high-risk pools – that would still leave these pools underfunded by at least $200 billion (other experts have arrived at much higher estimates). Over 10 years, the $8 billion increase would be insufficient to fill the funding shortfall for Michigan, Missouri, Colorado, much less nationwide.

High-risk pools also have more fundamental flaws. Where the ACA made it possible for people with pre-existing conditions to get the same kinds of insurance as everyone else, the amended House bill would segregate them in high-risk pools that pool sick people with even sicker people. Historically, that led to coverage with very high premiums, benefit exclusions, annual and lifetime limits, and other problems – even when pools were sufficiently funded to avoid waiting lists.

Equally important, the House bill creates other major problems for people with pre-existing conditions that an additional $8 billion doesn’t even purport to solve. These include:

  • Allowing insurers to go back to putting annual and lifetime limits on coverage for people with employer plans. Importantly, if even one state takes advantage of the MacArthur amendment to largely or entirely eliminate requirements for plans to cover essential health benefits, then large employer plans in every state could go back to imposing lifetime and annual limits on coverage. As a Brookings analysis explains, that’s because the ACA’s ban on lifetime and annual limits only applies to essential health benefits, and large employers get to decide which state’s definition of essential health benefits they want to adopt. This means that, even if Republicans altered their bill to protect people with pre-exiting conditions in the individual market, millions of people with pre-existing conditions who have coverage through their employer would be back to a world where they had to worry about exhausting their benefits each year – or for life. Before the ACA, 70 million people covered by large employers, including millions of children, had lifetime limits on benefits, meaning their health insurance coverage could end – for good – in the middle of a serious illness.
  • Effectively ending Medicaid expansion. Under the House bill, the federal government would no longer provide enhanced funding for new Medicaid enrollees after 2019, forcing most or all of the 31 states and Washington D.C. that have adopted the ACA’s Medicaid expansion to drop it. Medicaid expansion currently covers 11 million people who have high rates of pre-existing conditions. For example, almost 30 percent of those benefiting from Medicaid expansion have a mental illness or substance use disorder. This means that even if Republicans altered their bill to protect people with pre-existing conditions in the individual market, millions of people with pre-existing conditions would still lose coverage and access to care as a result of the bill. 
  • Dramatically raising premiums for older Americans84 percent of people age 55-64 have pre-existing health conditions. Under the House bill, older consumers could be charged premiums five times higher than younger consumers and would also see reduced tax credits. This means that even if Republicans altered their bill to drop the amendment allowing people to be charged more because of their health status, millions of people with pre-existing conditions would face unaffordable premiums because of their age. Moreover, high-risk pools are only intended to serve those with the most serious health conditions, but many older people have pre-existing conditions like hypertension and asthma that likely would not qualify them for high-risk pools, but could still expose them to additional premium surcharges.

Principles for Healthcare – any bipartisan measure or proposal should meet the below standards:

Access to coverage: Proposals must, relative to current law:

  • Increase or maintain the number of people with health insurance
  • Improve or maintain the stability of the individual insurance market

Affordability of coverage: Proposals must, relative to current law:

  • Reduce or maintain the net premiums people pay
  • Reduce or not increase deductibles and other cost sharing charges
  • Not make coverage less affordable or adequate for people with low incomes

Quality of coverage: Proposals must, relative to current law:

  • Retain benefit standards, including essential health benefits and protections against discrimination
  • Not make coverage less affordable, adequate or accessible for people with pre-existing or chronic conditions or those in poorer health

We need to do everything we can to keep pressure on the House moderate Republicans – to make sure those who were earlier NOs stay that way. Ask Colorado members to commit to opposing any bill or provision that causes millions of people to lose coverage, ends the ACA Medicaid expansion, shifts hundreds of billions of Medicaid costs to states, or makes individual market coverage less affordable.

Contact info for Colorado congressional delegation:

Sen. Cory Gardner – 303-391-5777  Email here.

Sen. Michael Bennet – 303-455-7600 / 866-455-9866 Email here.

Rep. Diana DeGette (CO District 1) –  303-844-4988 Email here.

Rep. Jared Polis (CO District 2) – 303-484-9596  Email here.

Rep. Scott Tipton (CO District 3) – 970-241-2499 Email here.

Rep. Ken Buck (CO District 4) – 970-702-2136   Email here.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO District 5) – 719-520-0055   Email here.

Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6) – 720-748-7514  Email here.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter  (CO District 7) – 303-274-7944 Email here.

Bars and Graphs, CFI’s End of Session Wrappy Hour

Posted May 3, 2017 by Caitlin Schneider

Bars and Graphs
CFI’s End of Session Wrappy Hour 
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 

Join us as we raise a glass to celebrate the end of the legislative session at our annual Bars and Graphs Legislative Wrappy Hour. You’ll get a brief wrap up of what happened during this year’s session and learn where things stand with the State budget. Bars and Graphs will be held at Vine Street Pub and Brewery; RSVP today as space is limited!

Bars and Graphs
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 
5:00 – 6:30 pm
(Program will begin around 5:30)
Vine Street Pub and Brewery
1700 Vine St. 
Denver, CO 80206

You won’t want to miss this event, RSVP today! 

Federal Budget Watch, April 26

Posted April 26, 2017 by Samantha Curran

binoculars-954021_1280Our friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities sent us this urgent missive this afternoon. Please take note and contact your members of Congress:

We could see a vote on a modified health care proposal in the House as early as this Friday!

The proposal has just won the support of the conservative House Republican Freedom Caucus — which heightens the chances significantly that the bill could pass.

Over the recess, the leader of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Meadows, negotiated a provision to add to the original House AHCA bill with Rep. MacArthur, one of the leaders of the moderate Republican “Tuesday Group.” The change is portrayed as protecting coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, but in fact, it makes it more likely that millions of Americans will see their premiums rise and/or lose access to their health coverage.

The modification would:

  • Roll back key pre-existing conditions protections: just like before the ACA, discrimination based on pre-existing conditions would be allowed except in states that chose to prohibit it.
  • Roll back nationwide standards that require plans to cover services like mental health and substance use treatment and maternity care, and that prohibit lifetime and annual limits.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a great paper explaining how these provisions would make the AHCA even worse. Read it here:

While the agreement was portrayed as a “deal” between moderate and conservative Republicans in the House, it turns out this change was nothing more than an agreement between Reps. Meadows and MacArthur. Unfortunately, that has now changed with the endorsement of the Freedom Caucus (which only serves to underscore concerns about the impact of the change).

Unless moderate Republicans oppose the measure, it will pass and go to the Senate which would then come under intense pressure to act. There are still very strong reasons for moderate Republicans to oppose this modified AHCA bill. This group has indicated consistently that they are worried about protecting the Medicaid expansion in their states, and about protecting coverage for Essential Health Benefits and pre-existing conditions. Yet the modified AHCA bill retains the elimination of the Medicaid expansion – and effectively the end of Medicaid as we know it (the per capita cap/the $880 billion cut), and only further weakens these critical consumer protections.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Still causes 24 million people to lose coverage: 1 in 10 non-elderly people who would otherwise have insurance would lose it.
  • Still effectively ends the ACA Medicaid expansion.
  • Still cuts $840 billion from Medicaid over 10 years, with most of the savings going to wealthy people and insurance, pharmaceutical, and other corporations.
  • Still increases premiums and deductibles for marketplace consumers, with total out-of-pocket costs increasing by an average of $3,600 – and far more for older people, lower-income people, and people in high-cost states.

In short, for moderate Republicans who had announced their opposition, there’s no reason for them to change their position. For those moderates who had not yet indicated their position, there is no excuse to support this bill given the harm it would do.

Considering these developments, we hope you will move quickly in the next 24-48 hours to ensure that Colorado’s House Republicans and Senators know that the modified AHCA bill would have tremendously harmful impacts on Colorado.

It is important to place a lot of pressure on Rep. Mike Coffman, who is currently undecided. Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6) can be contacted at: 720-748-7514 or through Email here.

Below are some messaging points to follow when contacting Representatives and Senators:

The modified Republican plan will make the underlying AHCA bill even worse. It is no compromise and it is certainly not a “deal” to the millions of Americans whose coverage will be impacted negatively:

  • People could be charged more if they had a pre-existing condition, putting affordable insurance out of reach for millions of Americans
  • Plans would no longer be required to cover services like mental health and substance use treatment, or maternity care – effectively allowing women to be charged more than men
  • People could again be subject to lifetime and annual limits on the coverage they get – meaning a medical catastrophe could once again mean bankruptcy

In short, ask Colorado members to commit to opposing any bill or provision that causes millions of people to lose coverage, ends the ACA Medicaid expansion, shifts hundreds of billions of Medicaid costs to states, or makes individual market coverage less affordable.

Contact info for Colorado congressional delegation:

Sen. Cory Gardner – 303-391-5777  Email here.

Sen. Michael Bennet – 303-455-7600 / 866-455-9866 Email here.

Rep. Diana DeGette (CO District 1) –  303-844-4988 Email here.

Rep. Jared Polis (CO District 2) – 303-484-9596  Email here.

Rep. Scott Tipton (CO District 3) – 970-241-2499 Email here.

Rep. Ken Buck (CO District 4) – 970-702-2136   Email here.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO District 5) – 719-520-0055   Email here.

Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6) – 720-748-7514  Email here.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter  (CO District 7) – 303-274-7944 Email here.

Federal Budget Watch, April 17

Posted April 17, 2017 by Samantha Curran

binoculars-954021_1280The outlook on health care reform in the House remains unclear as Congress enters the second and last week of its recess — yet key Republican leaders have noted that there are ongoing negotiations with the goal of bringing a consensus bill to the House floor soon after recess.

The conservative Freedom Caucus members continue to insist that the underlying House health reform bill (ACHA) be modified to address some of their concerns, e.g., with Essential Health Benefits (EHBs). Press reports this week revealed discussions underway between the Freedom Caucus leaders and representatives of the so-called “Tuesday Group” of moderate Republicans.

However, as this story indicates (, there’s no indication that moderates are budging from their opposition to anything that undercuts EHBs or pre-existing condition coverage. In fact, some leaders of the moderate Republicans have called for an entirely different approach: negotiating some limited changes to the ACA with Democrats. While this is not likely to happen in the House, it underscores the sharp differences that continue to divide House Republicans over health care reform, let alone between House and Senate Republicans.

We must, however, take seriously the continued push to bring a bill to the House floor soon after the recess. There appears to be a strong consensus among House Republican leaders and many in the Caucus (but not all) that the House simply must pass something on health reform, even if the Senate doesn’t act on it. President Trump said last week that Congress must finish health care reform before moving to tax reform.

When Congress returns next Tuesday, the major and most immediate business will be to avoid a government shut-down with the temporary budget “continuing resolution” (CR) expiring on April 28th. Intense negotiations are expected among Congressional leaders, and we understand it’s quite possible that the April 28th deadline will be extended for another week. This will shift attention from health care to the CR for at least the first week after recess.

House Republican leaders are coming under growing pressure from the Senate and other House Republicans to resolve this issue of health care reform one way or the other so that they can move forward on tax reform, an area that many Republicans think may be easier to pass (even with Democratic support, potentially) than health care.

Contact info for Colorado congressional delegation:

Sen. Cory Gardner – 303-391-5777 Email here.
Sen. Michael Bennet – 303-455-7600 / 866-455-9866 Email here.
Rep. Diana DeGette (CO District 1) – 303-844-4988 Email here.
Rep. Jared Polis (CO District 2- 303-484-9596 ) Email here.
Rep. Scott Tipton (CO District 3)- 970-241-2499 Email here.
Rep. Ken Buck (CO District 4)- 970-702-2136 Email here.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO District 5)- 719-520-0055 Email here.
Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6)- 720-748-7514 Email here.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO District 7) – 303-274-7944 Email here.


Federal Budget Watch, April 10

Posted April 10, 2017 by Carol Hedges

binoculars-954021_1280The two-week Easter/Passover recess is upon us and members are leaving town with only one legislative work-week left before the current continuing resolution (CR) expires on April 28. What does this mean for House Republicans budget and health care plans? Let’s get right into this week’s Federal Budget Watch.

Policymakers will either need to negotiate a final FY17 appropriations measure or, as we understand, they may extend the April 28 deadline by another week or so to give them time to negotiate a compromise.

Constructive bipartisan bicameral negotiations are underway that cover both funding levels and policy riders. The ability of negotiators to reach a bipartisan deal depends more on the outcome of the policy riders than it does on funding levels. Based on press reports, it appears the president’s request for extra FY17 money for defense and preliminary funding for the border wall will not be included in this measure.

Along with health care work looming, we expect Congress to spend the next month wrapping up spending bills for the rest of FY17. We understand that President Trump’s complete budget will be released in mid-May and congressional leaders will begin working on a budget resolution for FY18 with reconciliation instructions expected for tax reform. That said, some Republicans are already expressing some skepticism about whether House and Senate Republicans can come to an agreement on an FY18 budget. If they are unable to reach agreement on a conference report, then they will not be able to use reconciliation to advance tax reform/tax cut.

Both House and Senate discussions on tax reform are heating up. A top priority for the administration and Republicans leaders is a proposal advanced by President Trump during his campaign, which is a much lower top rate for “pass-through” business income. We expect this proposal, often mistakenly described as a tax cut for small business, to be considered. Here’s a new fact sheet from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the first in a forthcoming series of short two-pagers on various tax-reform proposals.

Health Care Roller Coaster

After a whirlwind week of negotiations among House Republicans on their proposal to repeal and replace the ACA, it’s clear that Congress will leave town for the Easter/Passover two-week recess period without any further legislative movement on health proposals. Notwithstanding intense pressure from the Trump Administration, House Republican leaders were unable to forge a compromise between the conservative Freedom Caucus and the moderate Republican so-called “Tuesday group.”

Not to say there wasn’t a little excitement: early Thursday morning, the House made plans for an emergency session of the House Rules Committee to consider a proposal to provide $15 billion for a new Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program to help insurers with the high-cost patients who have certain health conditions.

This blog from Edwin Park explains why this proposal would have a very modest impact. Moreover, this proposal was designed as an amendment to the original American Health Care Act (AHCA) health reconciliation that Republicans leaders were unable to move on the House floor in late March – meaning there is no improvement in Medicaid or the other flawed aspects of the bill that led to strong opposition to the measure.

Bottom line: we are still talking about the same very harmful bill with deep Medicaid cuts.

So, the outlook for action in the House remains uncertain – and yet it’s clear that Republican leaders have not given up trying to secure agreement on a plan that can pass the House floor which underscore the importance of continued work over recess when members are back home.

It’s still possible that a modified health reconciliation bill will be brought to the House floor in May if the Republican caucus can agree to a plan. As long as a core group of House Republicans remain opposed to the plan given its harsh treatment of Medicaid and the significant loss of health care coverage for millions of Americans, there is a strong chance of continued success in blocking this.

As we have noted in the past, if the House Republicans do rally around one plan and manage to pass it, there will be tremendous pressure on the Senate to take up the measure as long as it comports with the Senate’s strict rules for a reconciliation bill.

If the House fails to reach agreement and can’t pass a comprehensive health repeal and replace reconciliation measure, this does NOT mean the health care battles are over. To the contrary. Last week’s news about the health plans pulling out of Iowa have only served to deepen policymakers concerns about “market stability,” and we could see discrete proposals to address this when Congress returns in late April.

Assuming the House doesn’t pass a bill, the dynamic in the Senate appears to be shifting already to focusing to smaller proposals and whether any bipartisan agreement is feasible.  For example, Senators Alexander and Corker are working to build bipartisan support for their bill, S.761 (Health Care Options Act of 2017), which would allow people in areas without a plan in the marketplace to use premium tax credits for plans outside the marketplace even if the plans don’t meet current requirements for coverage. The bill would not help most people now in the marketplace because the premium credits wouldn’t be payable in advance and there wouldn’t be any cost-sharing subsidies.

There is very little question that the House and Senate will take up at some point other legislation that revises the Affordable Care Act, or will attempt to change the ACA – and possibly Medicaid – on other health measures.

The Senate will consider bipartisan legislation to extend FDA’s user fees this spring, and we are hopeful that ACA-related amendments to the bill will be soundly rejected. Later this year, the House and Senate must act to extend CHIP funding as well as some expiring health provisions. Hence the need for continued strong efforts to protect and preserve the ACA and Medicaid back in members’ home districts.

Contact info for Colorado congressional delegation:

Sen. Cory Gardner – 303-391-5777 Email here.
Sen. Michael Bennet – 303-455-7600 / 866-455-9866 Email here.
Rep. Diana DeGette (CO District 1) – 303-844-4988 Email here.
Rep. Jared Polis (CO District 2- 303-484-9596 ) Email here.
Rep. Scott Tipton (CO District 3)- 970-241-2499 Email here.
Rep. Ken Buck (CO District 4)- 970-702-2136 Email here.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO District 5)- 719-520-0055 Email here.
Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6)- 720-748-7514 Email here.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO District 7) – 303-274-7944 Email here.

Federal Budget Watch, April 5

Posted April 5, 2017 by Samantha Curran

binoculars-954021_1280We, like you, have been regrouping on the health care front after the House GOP’s efforts to repeal the ACA and gut Medicaid astoundingly imploded. While Republicans found it exceedingly difficult to reach an agreement on their health care repeal efforts, it is clear we are not out of the woods in terms of federal health threats this year.

 The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ legislative team has put together a memo that walks through the legislative and administrative vehicles in which we could continue to see more efforts to move ACA changes and weaken Medicaid and the Medicaid expansion. The operative word for the coming months is vigilance. The full memo can be found here.

It is completely possible that House members try yet again to move the AHCA in the coming weeks, particularly given that many GOP members are feeling nervous about returning home to constituents during the upcoming April recess without having made good on their campaign promises to repeal the ACA. It’s vital that we all keep up the drumbeat against the GOP’s healthcare plans.

We hope you will continue to put pressure on Colorado’s moderate House Republicans and senators via direct outreach and social media in the next two weeks to get them on the record pledging to:

  • Stand firm in protecting both the Medicaid expansion and the underlying Medicaid program, including by opposing proposals that phase out expansion over time, or cap Medicaid spending via a “per capita cap” that shifts costs and risk to states.
  • Oppose any bill that would result in millions of people losing coverage or face higher costs.
  • Oppose any effort that would destabilize the marketplaces.
  • Move on from this partisan effort to repeal the ACA and instead work together in a bipartisan way to improve our health care system.

The upcoming April recess, the week of April 10, is a particularly vital time to make this public push on members. We need to continue to push those who publicly came out against the AHCA and make sure they stand firm against the principles listed above. Below are the House moderate Republicans who were confirmed NO votes on the AHCA for reference.

In short, we need to do all that we can to ensure that the AHCA is truly dead as dead.

Confirmed NO votes from moderate R’s

FL-27     Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – Press Release  – Thurs. March 23rd
IA-3        David Young – Press Release – Wed. March 22nd
NC-3      Walter Jones – Statement to the Press – Friday March 24th
NJ-2       Frank A. LoBiondo – Press Release – Wed. March 22nd
NJ-4       Christopher H. Smith – Statement to the Press – Wed. March 22nd
NJ-7       Leonard Lance – Statement to the Press – March 14th
NJ-11     Rodney Frelinghuysen – Press Release – Friday March 24th
NV-2      Mark Amodei – Tweet –  Thurs. March 23rd
NY-11    Dan Donovan – Press Release – Wed. March 22nd
NY-24    John Katko – Press Release – March 17th
OH-14   David Joyce – Tweet – Friday March 24th
PA-8      Brian Fitzpatrick – Press Release – Wed. March 22nd
PA-5      Glenn Thompson – Statement – March 18th
PA-15    Charlie Dent – Press Release – Thurs. March 23rd
VA-1      Rob Wittman – Statement – Monday March 20th
VA-10    Barbara Comstock – Press Release – Friday March 24th
WA-3     Jaime Herrera Beutler – Press Release – Thurs. March 23rd

Minority Leaders Pelosi and Schumer Letter to President Trump

Last week, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to President Donald Trump, insisting the administration meet its responsibility to implement the law and not sabotage the Affordable Care Act. The letter also urges President Trump to work with Democrats to strengthen health care and further reduce costs for the American people.

As Leader Pelosi and Leader Schumer write, “Democrats have always been ready to work across the aisle to improve and update the Affordable Care Act. It is our hope that we can work together to prevent the increase in premiums and other health care costs for hard-working Americans, including the soaring cost of prescription drugs — a vital issue you have raised in the past.”

Read the full letter here.

Senate Democrat Letter to President Trump

Also last week, Senate Democrats released a new letter to President Trump urging him and his administration to abandon their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and undermine the United States health care system so they can work in a bipartisan fashion to improve the law and lower the costs of health care for all Americans.

The letter, signed by 44 Senate Democrats, also requests — as a first step — that the Trump administration rescind the executive order signed on Jan. 20, 2017, which severely undermined the Affordable Care Act and sparked the efforts to unravel the law, thereby undermining the health care system and increasing costs, hurting patients, providers and families. Senate Democrats also expressed concern with President Trump’s recent statement indicating it would be a good thing to make the ACA “explode” — despite the fact that would mean hurting millions of Americans.

Read the full letter here.

Contact info for Colorado congressional delegation:

Sen. Cory Gardner – 303-391-5777 Email here.
Sen. Michael Bennet – 303-455-7600 / 866-455-9866 Email here.
Rep. Diana DeGette (CO District 1) – 303-844-4988 Email here.
Rep. Jared Polis (CO District 2- 303-484-9596 ) Email here.
Rep. Scott Tipton (CO District 3)- 970-241-2499 Email here.
Rep. Ken Buck (CO District 4)- 970-702-2136 Email here.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO District 5)- 719-520-0055 Email here.
Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6)- 720-748-7514 Email here.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO District 7) – 303-274-7944 Email here.

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