This morning's Rocky had a story by John C. Ensslin entitled "Settlement reached over state's benefits management program." You may recall that shortly after the Colorado Benefits Management Systems (CBMS) took a nose dive after a premature conversion back in September 2004, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) filed a lawsuit on behalf of clients in an attempt to hold the State accountable for its performance. The action was led by Denver attorneys Ed Kahn and Mike Cook, working on a pro bono basis. Others working on the case locally included Elisabeth Arenales of CCLP. and nationally, a group from the National Center for Law and Economic Justice based in NY City, led by Marc Cohan.
The article states that according to the terms of agreement:
"* The Department of Human Services will be required to deliver ongoing food stamps to eligible clients within 30 days after their applications are filed. Families eligible for expedited food stamps must receive them within seven days.
* The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing will be required to process applications for Children's Basic Health Plan benefits within 45 days.
* Three times during the 36- month review period, HCPF also will be required to provide a random sample of cases so an independent auditor can review whether or not benefits were correctly approved or denied."
Here is Ed Kahn's comment taken from the article: ""Some problems have been solved," he said. "But the system remains, in many ways, very bad."
I have to wonder why it took three years and a lawsuit to get State managers to set performance benchmarks for service to CBMS clients. Thanks go to Ed, Mike, and the others for getting at least get this much accomplished on behalf of aid recipients. Obviously, there is much remaining to be done. Here's hoping.