FAMLI Task Force Study and Expert Reports Lay Out Roadmap To Strong Family Leave Policy for Colorado

For Immediate Release
December 18, 2019
Contact: Olga Robak (303.229.9447) or Debra Brown, Good Business Colorado (720-917-4900)

FAMLI Task Force Study and Expert Reports Lay Out Roadmap To Strong Family Leave Policy for Colorado
Final Actuarial Study Shows Increased Fund Balance and High Level of Solvency for Publicly Accountable Insurance Program

Denver, CO – Yesterday’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Task Force meeting adjourned with seventeen points of consensus on the bones for a strong and solvent paid family and medical leave program for Colorado. Voting unanimously, the Task Force agreed that any plan passed by the legislature should cover both family and medical leave (including time off for military caregiving needs or domestic violence), allow self-employed workers to participate, align eligibility requirements with other social insurance programs already operated in Colorado, and be regulated and managed by the State’s Labor Department.

This was the final meeting before the Task Force must submit its report to the legislature before January 8, 2020. The Task Force has been meeting since July and has commissioned three national expert reports and an actuarial study to inform recommendations about the feasibility, solvency, and affordability of a paid family and medical leave programs. All three of the expert reports independently provided research showing  that a state-run, social insurance program is the most stable and affordable approach in both the short and long term.

“The task force process was helpful in pulling together research, expert opinions, and the voices of all stakeholders, including businesses and workers, to provide more insight on what is the strongest leave policy that Colorado can afford,” said Judith Marquez, Co-Director of 9to5 Colorado, who leads the coalition of groups supporting a strong paid family and medical leave (PFML). “Now legislators have the research they need to make good policy decisions to  determine premium percentage, premium splits between an employee and employer, and how to design an inclusive family definition. The ranges included in the actuarial study showed us that an affordable plan is within reach and the three expert reports confirmed that finding. Coloradans overwhelmingly support a strong leave policy and we must use this public and transparent task force process to inform our discussion during the legislative session.”

The Task Force is still waiting to receive an actuarial report from Pinnacol Assurance, a Colorado workers’ compensation insurance company that has proposed a corporate-backed paid family and medical leave program. Thus far, Pinnacol has been unable to show that its plan would be more affordable or accessible than a public, state-run plan that would include all workers in Colorado.

“Right now there is a lot of uncertainty about Pinnacol’s plan and no guarantee that any other insurers will offer this coverage, so the claim about a market-driven solution is lacking a critical component: the market,” said Kathy White, Deputy Director of Colorado Fiscal Institute. “Meanwhile, evidence presented by three national experts and the actuarial study confirmed that a social insurance plan is attainable and affordable for Colorado. Offering a plan with a single, corporate-backed insurer has never been tested and we shouldn’t be experimenting with Colorado’s small businesses and workers when we have a solution that’s already been proven to work in other states.”

No state has adopted a for-profit plan that resembles Pinnacol’s proposal and there is significant uncertainty and speculation in this untested model. Meanwhile, the Task Force’s actuarial study found, with an 87 percent confidence level, that the social insurance plan was solvent and affordable. The final actuarial report provided a range, estimating a “low benefit” model of 12 total weeks of paid family and medical leave per year and a “high benefit” model with a maximum of 28 weeks per year. At 0.71 percent of a worker’s salary, the cost for a “low benefit” model calculates to less than 30 minutes in a 40-hour work week, or about $15/month for a full time minimum wage worker. The actuarial study provides a clear blueprint for an affordable and solvent paid family and medical leave program, resembling what has passed in other states around the country.

If passed, Colorado would be a national leader by passing the country’s 10th paid family and medical leave law. The issue, already popular among Coloradans thanks to previous legislative sessions, is gaining steam on the national stage as well. Paid leave legislation is being considered in dozens of states and a bill granting 12 weeks of parental leave to federal workers passed the U.S. House and Senate this week and has been sent to the President’s desk.

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