The Colorado Children’s Campaign strongly believes that paid family and medical leave is critical to support infant and maternal health and family economic security. A young child’s early relationships, especially with parents, shape the architecture of the developing brain, forming the foundation for all learning and relationships that follow. Paid leave also helps ensure that children grow up in families that are financially secure, which supports their healthy development.
The Children’s Campaign supports the creation of a paid family and medical leave program that is accessible, affordable, adequate, and equitable for all Coloradans. A program designed to remove as many barriers as possible for people who have the most obstacles to paid family leave will make the system work better for everyone.
In order to ensure meaningful and equitable access to paid leave for all workers in Colorado, the program must meet the following criteria:
- It must include a large, statewide risk pool in order to help promote stability and lower premiums.
- It must offer community rating, in which all workers and/or employers pay the same premiums, regardless of region, industry, program usage, sex, gender, age or health status.
- Insurance coverage must be guaranteed to be offered to anyone seeking the coverage.
- There must be a guaranteed issuer so that access to the benefit is not dependent on the creation of a viable private market.
- It must ensure that neither employers nor private insurance carriers have profit-based incentives to deny claims or determine eligibility restrictively.
- It must ensure that the program does not create or exacerbate disincentives to hire, adequately compensate, or retain current or future employees who are most likely to utilize the benefit.
- It must offer a portable benefit to workers, so that access to wage replacement benefits does not depend on a worker’s current employer.
- If employers are allowed to offer equivalent or better private plans, those employers must submit an application for approval of their plan from the state, and the applications should be reviewed by state employees and approve. Plans that are approved should be periodically reviewed or audited.
There will be no way to guarantee a viable market or ensure that all employers will implement the components of a quality paid leave program with fidelity without a solid foundation built on these criteria. Deliberations about the other policy components of a quality paid leave program, such as progressive wage replacement, adequate length of leave, and job protection, are much less relevant unless Colorado gets the fundamental structure of a paid leave program right.
We believe that the best way to ensure that Colorado’s paid leave program meets these criteria is to design the program as a social insurance model. A social insurance model was recommended by a supermajority of the members of the FAMLI task force, created pursuant to SB19-188. It is the model recommended by national experts, including all three experts who submitted reports to the task force, as well as the American Enterprise Institute. It has also worked successfully and is the model used by other states that have implemented a paid leave program.
We are reviewing the current proposal to determine whether it meets these criteria and will result in a program that is accessible, affordable, adequate, and equitable for all workers in Colorado. If the proposal does not accomplish this through a social insurance model, it must include strong protections aligned with the criteria above.
We thank all of the current sponsors of the bill for their continued willingness to be responsive to community and coalition feedback, and for their commitment to establishing an equitable paid family and medical leave program, a policy that is so critical for the well-being of Colorado kids and families. We are also thankful for the hard work from Representative Duran and Senator Williams, who removed their names as bill sponsors from a prior version of the proposal, based on feedback from communities who would not receive equitable access to paid leave under that prior version of the proposal. We will continue to fight to ensure that Colorado’s solution to the need for a paid family and medical leave program meets the key criteria noted above and will not be able to support a proposal that falls short of these goals.
Please reach out to Riley Kitts at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-960-6492 with any questions.
Colorado Children’s Campaign