This year Young Invincibles Rocky Mountain was hard at work fighting for health equity and economic opportunity for young adults across Colorado. During the 2023 legislative session, our office elevated a record-breaking number of young adult stories at our State Capitol through public testimony (more than 90 stories shared) and engaged on over 33 pieces of legislation across our agenda priorities of healthcare, higher education, workforce, and basic needs access.
The YI Rocky Mountain 2023 Policy Agenda committed to addressing healthcare affordability, reproductive justice, workforce protections for hourly employees, and increased access to higher education, particularly for students furthest from privilege who need access to wraparound support services in order to succeed.
To accomplish this work, we’ve reached out to more legislators than ever before through coordinated storytelling campaigns, direct advocacy, and in-person events. Our staff, fellows, advocates, and board members have been advocating at the Capitol, testifying, organizing, taking digital actions, attending coalition meetings, and sharing their lived experiences in the stakeholding process. Of the 21 lead and support policies on our agenda, we’re proud that all but three passed successfully! Let’s dive into the 2023 session recap.
Successful Healthcare Lead Bill – Hospital Community Benefit HB23-1243
We worked in partnership with Colorado’s Department of Healthcare Policy and Finance, the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, and Centennial State Prosperity to hold non-profit hospitals accountable to funding health equity through federal standards around Community Benefit spending.
Nonprofit hospitals are federally required to use a percentage of their revenue towards Community Benefit. HB23-1243 Hospital Community Benefit will direct Colorado nonprofit hospitals to spend their Community Benefit dollars on healthcare gaps that address their particular community’s needs and create a funding source for local communities to fund health equity. Young Invincibles was instrumental in ensuring the prioritization of community benefit dollars will be driven by a robust community engagement process led by the hospitals. Read more
Access and affordability continue to be huge barriers for young adults to consistently obtain healthcare. We supported the following bills to expand Medicaid access for young adults with mental health struggles, improve quality of care, address gaps in reproductive/maternal care that disproportionately impact Hispanic, Black and Rural Coloradans, and cement access to gender-affirming care.
“It is no secret that young adults are facing a mental health crisis and we must, as a collective, take action on this fact to make sure mental health supports are accessible.” (CPR Article) – Amelia Federico (they/them), Policy Fellow, HB23-1071 will allow psychologists to write prescriptions, expanding access to mental healthcare.
Successful Healthcare Support Bills
- HB23-1003 School Mental Health Assessment
- HB 23-1004 Language Access in Insurance Documents
- HB23-1071 Licensed Psychologist Prescriptive Authority
- SB23-004 Employment of School Mental Health Professionals
- SB23-002 Medicaid Reimbursement For Community Health Services
- SB23-014 Eating Disorder Prevention
- SB23-176 Eating Disorder Treatment Protections
- SB23-174 Access to Certain Behavioral Health Services
- SB23-167 Board Of Nursing Regulate Certified Midwives
- SB23-288 Coverage for Doula Services
- HB23-1183 Prior Authorization For Step-therapy Exception
- HB23-1126 Consumer Reports Not Include Medical Debt Information
- [Opposed] SB23-109 Criminal Penalty Controlled Substance Supplier
- HB23-1187 Alternatives in Criminal Justice System and Pregnant Persons
Unsuccessful Healthcare Bills
HB12-1209 Analyze Statewide Healthcare Systems would have set up a task force and allot funding for the Colorado School of Public Health to study the potential benefits, challenges, and consequences of implementing a publicly-funded, privately-delivered health care system in Colorado. This bill was lost this session, not due to the merits of the policy, but due to the time running out with it on the calendar before a final vote could take place in the Senate.
Young adults in Colorado continue to cite high out-of-pocket costs (insurance, copays, prescriptions, surprise fees, etc.) as the primary barrier to accessing physical or mental healthcare. When Colorado adopts a nonprofit public system to pay for our privately-delivered health care, it will save lives, save money, save young adults and our providers the headache and heartache of fighting with health insurance companies. Bill sponsors Representative Boesenecker, and Representative McCormick are confident we can achieve a win in the next session, and our office has already spoken with the coalition about bringing the policy back in 2024.
In 2023, Colorado college students are facing unprecedented levels of inflation, high cost of living, and the rapidly rising cost of college attendance. This year, YI worked to pass policies to connect more students to increase access to basic needs for college students and young adults struggling with the cost of living, fund food pantries, increase adult access to high school diplomas and credentials, among so much more…take a look!
- HB23-1007 Higher Education Crisis and Suicide Prevention
- SB23-007 Adult Education
- SB23-003 Colorado Adult High School Program
- HB23-1037 Department of Corrections Earned Time for College Program Completion
- HB23-1261 Remove Selective Service Requirement
- SB23-008 Youth Involvement Education Standards Review
- Food Security Bills:
Workforce & Economic Opportunity
This year our advocates worked on a number of workforce initiatives with a focus on protections for hourly workers and delivery drivers. Unfortunately, both HB23-1118 Fair Workweek Standards and SB23-098 Gig Work Transparency, were postponed indefinitely. These bills have been on our young people’s radar for two years now, and while we are disappointed it couldn’t be passed this year, we’re committed to worker protections and will continue to work in coalition with labor groups to bring the bill back next year. Also lost to a Governor veto was HB23-1147 Driver’s Test Exam Reimbursement, which would have subsidized the cost of third-party driver’s test providers to help low-income Coloradans. We did achieve wins in eliminating the cost of phone calls for people incarcerated or in custody and funding our state’s diaper essentials bank (a renewal of SB21-027 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families). A former young advocate and former foster youth, Keaton Sheagley, also testified in support of SB23-082, which will create a housing voucher program for homeless foster youth.
Successful Workforce & Economic Opportunity Bills
- HB23-1133 Cost of Phone Calls for Persons in Custody
- $2 million was included in our state’s budget to continue to support the diaper grant program for two more years.
- SB23-082 Colorado Fostering Success Voucher Program
Unsuccessful Workforce & Economic Opportunity Bills
- SB23-098 Gig Work Transparency
- HB23-1118 Fair Workweek Employment Standards
- HB23-1147 Driver’s License Examination Reimbursement
“Foster youth are being deprived of the basic support that is required to live successful and prosperous lives.” (CO Politics Article) – Keaton Sheagley (he/him), Young Advocate Program Alumni
Our office’s greatest achievement this session isn’t our policy wins. It is the way that our policy work has been led by our Young Advocates, Policy Fellows, and Returning Young Advocates from Fall 2022 (a.k.a “Policy Advocates”). We pioneered a 2023 Legislative Action Toolkit to facilitate easy access to civic engagement opportunities for the YI network and had more digital actions taken by our network of priority legislation than ever before! Each of our Policy Advocates have also been able to take a leadership role in either lobbying or coalition efforts for one or more of our agenda bills.
Thank you for your continued support, and stay tuned for opportunities to get involved in our 2024 Policy Agenda development this summer! We believe that every young adult has a story to tell and that with the right inspiration, empowerment, and skills – that story can literally change the world. This year, our young people did just that. To track our bills from the 2023 Colorado Legislative Session, click here.