Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Regional Thinking (Part 2)

Last week, I made a post discussing the discrepancies between the fiscal effort the State of Colorado makes toward its Regional Centers versus the fiscal effort the State makes toward community providers.

I promised there was more to the story, and today that story continues on this blog.

For a variety of reasons, including outdated facilities and a need to meet the Home and Community Based Services Settings Final Rule, the State is currently planning to build four new homes in community settings, replacing homes on its Grand Junction Regional Center Campus. Each of the homes will likely house six individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), so the homes will serve a total of 24 people. The State has taken the first step and has engaged the services of an architecture firm to design the homes, which is currently doing some fact-finding on Colorado homes built to serve folks with I/DD.

The cost for these homes? About $12 million, a figure under consideration by the State.

I have no opposition to spending money to support our fellow citizens with I/DD, assuming it is spent wisely. Therein lies the debate.

The State is allocating funds for these four homes at a time when community providers of the same sort of services have seen a relative cut of 34% in rates since the year 2000.

Wait . . . what? Again with the statistics?

Over the past 15 years or so, that State has implicitly and explicitly encouraged community providers to move away from a residential model where four to eight people live together in a single home owned (or leased) by the provider to a Host Home model where one, or at most two, individuals live in a home owned (or leased) by the Host Home employee.

While there are pluses and minuses to the Host Home model, it is very cost effective, so I can see why the cash strapped State might want providers to move toward that model.

And community providers have heard the message loud and clear. Many have decreased or stopped providing residential services in group homes altogether, and have been selling off their assets (dozens of homes). We at Imagine! have also closed a group home in the past year.

So, on the one hand, the State is allocating significant funds to build new State owned and operated group homes, while on the other hand, community providers are selling off the inventory that the State itself wants to construct. Mind you – this isn’t a debate about the idea of staffed facilities being the model of choice. This is a debate about utilizing limited public funds in the most effective manner.

Is anyone else recognizing this discrepancy? Does this continue to contribute to the idea of the State’s preferred business model for people with I/DD? Tell me it isn’t so.

Then why do it?

Believe me, there’s even more to this story. Stay tuned.

Then again, what do I know?

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