Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Taxes And Case Management

Tax season is upon us.

We’re a little more than a week away from the deadline for Americans to file their tax forms, and either pay what they owe or await a refund.

There are a variety of ways a person can complete tax forms. They can do themselves. They can purchase software to assist in filing. They can hire a professional. Which method a person chooses often depends on the complexity of their tax needs.

Why am I starting this post on such a boring and unpopular subject? Well, our tax system can be complicated and at times very difficult to navigate (I’m looking at you, State of Vermont Department of Taxes website), and yet many individuals and couples find that it is not so complicated or difficult to navigate that they can’t still prepare their taxes on their own, without professional assistance.

In the DD world, not every family or individual’s needs are so complicated that they need a professional to intercede on their behalf when researching and procuring services. Despite this fairly self evident fact, Medicaid waivers for services for individuals with developmental disabilities mandate that anyone who receives services, regardless of the complexity of those services, must have a professional Case Manager assist them.

Yes, the system of funding and delivery services for individuals with intellectual disabilities is complex. But is anyone willing to argue that it is more complex than our tax system? I wouldn’t think so. And if many individuals and families can navigate the tax system on their own, surely they can navigate the DD system on their own.

My experience at Imagine! has shown me that there is in fact a substantial percentage of families we serve who are quite capable of navigating the DD system on their own, and let’s not forget that families are usually in the best position to make services decisions for their loved one. Our Autism Spectrum Disorder Program has followed this self directed model for several years and achieved impressive success. I wrote about it in this very blog awhile back.

What would happen if we developed a service model that did not force every family and individual who needed services to go through a Case Manager to get those services? A model where case management services would be available based on the needs and goals of families and their loved ones? Isn’t a Targeted Case Management EZ Form conceivable?

I think that it could save the system a considerable amount of money, money that could be directed toward better training and retention of Case Managers for those who really need case management services, as well as directed toward making information about navigating the system more accessible and easy to understand (I’m still looking at you, State of Vermont Department of Taxes website).

I am aware that this would be a radical change in the way we currently fund and deliver services, and that the idea I just presented may not be a popular one. But considering the current state of the DD system in Colorado and the nation, I think it will take some radical thinking to figure a way out of the mess we find ourselves in. I’m willing to take some lumps for presenting this idea, and I hope that it will spark some discussion on what solutions, if any, are out there.

Then again, what do I know?


  1. A good friend of mine forwarded me this aritcle in support of this blog post,

  2. These are some good concepts that can be applied to similar things such as human services software. Thanks for sharing!