NCLEJ and Colleagues Achieve Settlement in Colorado Requiring Prompt Processing of Benefits Applications (January, 2008)
On January 3, 2008 the state court approved a settlement in this case, which was filed in August 2004 court following Colorado's premature launch of a flawed new computer system to manage applications and ongoing eligibility for all of its public benefits programs. The new system, known as the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS), led to massive delays in processing applications and loss of benefits. Plaintiffs secured a preliminary injunction in late 2004 requiring timely benefit processing, elimination of the backlog of overdue cases, an emergency processing mechanism for those who lost benefits as a result of the new system, extensive reporting by the state agency, improved notices to program beneficiaries, and a stay on collection of overpayments caused by the new system.
After extensive negotiations, the parties agreed to a settlement in late 2007 under which the state agency must comply with federal and state requirements for timely processing of applications for Food Stamps, Medicaid, Children's Basic Health Plan, and TANF cash assistance and engage in extensive reporting and monitoring. Other provisions include the following: the state will maintain a toll-free telephone for applicants and recipients to report problems and get resolution, instruct counties to refund collections of overpayments caused by improper operation of the computer system, require counties that are not providing telephonic access to applicants and recipients to do so, and take steps to investigate and resolve systemic computer problems identified by the plaintiffs.
The case is Davis v. Henneberry (originally known as Hawthorne-Bey v. Reinertson). In addition to NCLEJ, plaintiffs' counsel are the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and Sherman & Howard L.L.C. For more information contact the folloiwng at NCLEJ: Marc Cohan, cohan(at) nclej.org, Gina Mannix, mannix(at)nclej.org, or Tedde Tasheff, tasheff(at)nclej.org.