The graph compares rates paid to providers of services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in Colorado with the Consumer Price Index in Denver, Boulder, and Greeley from FY 1997-98 through 2016-17 (along with projections up to 2020). I think you will notice a disturbing trend.
That separation between what providers are paid and what it actually costs to do business is spreading like an infection, and it has very real consequences for individuals receiving (or not receiving) support services in our state. The chart shows that over the past 20 years, providers have lost 29.4% of their buying power. Statewide, resources for people with I/DD are becoming more and more misaligned with what people need and what they have every right to expect. The quality of services and the availability of services are both at significant risk.
Providers are continually forced to squeeze water from a stone, and that stone is running completely dry. Yet, we rarely hear about this issue in the conversations of Colorado’s I/DD community. The silence is deafening.
I have frequently argued that a model where individuals and families have more direct control of the resources associated with their services, and allows for providers to establish market pricing, is a better model than our state’s current system of funding and rationing services. Individuals and families have already demonstrated the model can work. I further believe that if that model were in place, we’d hear a lot more family voices about the continual state cuts to service rates. Maybe then, the I/DD community wouldn’t be carrying the weight of Colorado’s budget woes on its shoulders.
Then again, what do I know?