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June 5, 2024

ICYMI: Governor Signs Bills to Support Colorado Families

DENVER, CO - Yesterday, Governor Jared Polis signed two pieces of legislation that will improve maternal health care in Colorado and streamline access to the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program.

HB24-1223, sponsored by Representatives Jenny Willford, D-Northglenn, and Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County, and Senators Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County, and Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, increases access to childcare through the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program by creating a simplified universal application and limiting the application information to only what is necessary to determine eligibility.

“Child care is critical to getting parents back into the workforce so they can earn income that helps them keep a roof over their head,” said Willford. “This legislation will connect Colorado parents to affordable child care so they can more easily advance in their career and support their family.”

“Navigating work, appointments, and day-to-day activities can be a challenge for young families, especially if they don’t have access to child care,” Cutter said. “HB-1223 will remove time-consuming, unnecessary information from the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program application, making it easier for families to sign up and access the child care they need.”

“Lack of access to child care can be a barrier that prevents parents from returning to work, which is why we’re passing this legislation to simplify the process to receive child care assistance,” said Garcia. “HB24-1223 streamlines and simplifies the process parents have to take to benefit from the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program so they can get their kids in affordable, quality care easier. I'm also proud that our legislation to address the maternal health crisis is now law after a report found that 89 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in Colorado were deemed preventable, especially for Black, Indigenous, and people of color. This new law works to increase access to maternal care, including midwives, to provide trauma-informed care, safe transitions, and other wraparound services so pregnant Coloradans can receive the care they need.”

HB24-1262, also sponsored by Representative Garcia and Senator Michaelson Jenet, as well as Representative Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora, and Senator Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, requires collecting more data on mistreatment during the perinatal period and mandates advance notice be given to a patient when a facility reduces or ends maternal health care services. 

“The maternal mortality crisis disproportionately impacts Black and immigrant communities, which is especially important to diverse families in my district,” said Buckner. “This law takes a holistic approach to addressing the crisis by increasing the number of maternal health care providers, collecting data on mistreatment, and studying the ways we can improve care.”

“As a new mom, I know how important it is to have quality health care providers by your side that will advocate for the best health outcomes for you and your baby,” said Jodeh. “Families should have the freedom to choose a health care provider that best fits their needs, especially for the Black and Indigenous Coloradans that are two to three times as likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth. This law will help improve Coloradans’ access to life-saving health care to keep Colorado families safe and healthy.”

“The bills signed into law will be huge for Colorado’s families,” Michaelson Jenet said. “We’re not only implementing measures to combat the maternal mortality crisis, but we’re also making it easier for families to access affordable child care when they get to that stage of life. These laws will save and improve lives – especially in historically marginalized communities who are disproportionately impacted by the maternal health crisis and child care deserts.”

The law also:

  • Directs the Civil Rights Commission to collect reports of mistreatment in maternity care to help address prenatal mistreatment and discrimination;

  • Adds a midwife who is practicing in a freestanding birth center, in a rural area, or as a home birth provider to the Environmental Justice Advisory Board;

  • Requires a health care facility that provides maternal health care services to provide public notice at least 90 days before the discontinuation of these services;

  • Requires the Colorado Maternal Mortality Prevention Program to study the availability of perinatal health care, facility and practice closures and the impacts on maternal and infant health, and provide recommendations to the General Assembly; and

  • Adds pregnancy as a protected class for the purposes of discrimination in places of public accommodation.

The Colorado Maternal Mortality Review Committee made recommendations to combat the maternal mortality crisis, including increasing access to varied health care like midwifery, addressing maternal health workforce shortages, and studying the impact of facility shortages on Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian, rural, and immigrant and refugee communities.

A 2022 report found that 38 percent of Colorado counties are a maternal health care desert, meaning they don’t have perinatal health care providers or birth centers. A 2023 report found that Black Coloradans are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or within one year postpartum, while Indigenous Coloradans are three times as likely.

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