Mesa County

Our 2020 Policy Agenda Following a Year of Threats to Health

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Policies enacted at the local, state and national levels have substantial impact on the health of individuals, their families and communities. As we look back on 2019, it’s clear that decisions at every level of government are important forces underlying each of the Foundation’s four focus areas – and advocacy engagement is more critical than ever. 

In coordination with partners around the state, we have spoken out against a wave of proposed federal regulations that would make it more difficult for Coloradans living on low income to access vital health, housing and nutrition services. Individually, each would have a negative impact on people living on low income and those who have historically had less power and privilege. Cumulatively, the impact could be even more detrimental. 

These federal regulations risk the health of some Coloradans more than others. Here are just a few of grave concern from this year:

  • The U.S. Department of Commerce proposed adding a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census that would hinder an accurate count. We issued several comment letters and joined 30 philanthropic organizations to submit an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting a legal challenge to the inclusion of a citizenship question on the Census. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the question’s inclusion. Learn how the census impacts Coloradans’ health.
  • The U.S. Department of State issued a proclamation on immigrant health insurance coverage that would drastically limit the number of people able to obtain a green card, limit access to health coverage and create additional complexity in the U.S. immigration system. Read our comment letter
  • If implemented, a recently finalized rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would change the eligibility criteria for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is estimated to cause 90,000 Coloradans to lose their nutrition benefits annually. Additionally, Colorado would lose more than $20 million per year in economic activity. Read our comment letter.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services’ proposal to alter nondiscrimination protections could limit access to health care services for people with limited English proficiency and the LGBTQ community. Read our comment letter.

For details on the full list of regulatory threats we’re monitoring, read all of the Foundation’s comment letters and learn more about threats to safety net programs impacting health (prepared by the Wynne Health Group).  

So where do we go from here? 2020 is certain to be an eventful year at the local, state and national levels, and we remain committed to advancing and protecting policies that bring health in reach for all Coloradans. 

In addition to advocacy funding opportunities, the Foundation develops an annual policy agenda that serves as a roadmap for how we use our own voice to advocate for health equity. In 2020, we will:

  • Advocate for policies that enable people living on low incomes, immigrants, refugees, people of color, LGBTQ Coloradans and people with disabilities to meet their health care, housing and nutrition needs.
  • Improve resources for Coloradans living with mental health and substance use conditions through community-led, local policy solutions.
  • Advocate for local, state and federal policies that ensure no Coloradan goes hungry.
  • Foster alignment among communities and state and local policymakers to ensure every Coloradan has stable, accessible and affordable housing.
  • Support a complete count of all people in Colorado in the 2020 Census.
  • Support fiscal policies that create greater equity, accountability and transparency in how state and local governments generate and spend tax revenues.
  • Advocate for services and supports that foster healthy social-emotional development and resiliency of young children.

This list of advocacy priorities isn’t exhaustive, and we intend to be nimble in response to the unpredictable nature of our political landscape. We’re constantly listening to become aware of – and responsive to – other equity-related challenges affecting Coloradans’ health. 

In addition to the Presidential election, as one of only 14 states that allows citizen-led initiatives to go directly to the ballot, we expect 2020 to be a year when Colorado voters will have the opportunity to determine the outcome of several policies through local and state ballot measures. The 2016 election cycle provided an opportunity to learn how advocates can successfully use ballot measures as a tool for policy change. Check out the findings from our evaluation of how to organize state and local ballot measure campaigns.

We have a long-standing commitment to policy advocacy at the Foundation, and an unwavering pledge to serve Coloradans who are living on low income and who have historically had less power or privilege. In the coming year, we will continue to listen and learn from a diversity of voices across the state. We are grateful for and inspired by the incredible partners who join us in our advocacy efforts to ensure public policy supports greater health equity for all.

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