Monday, January 8, 2018

Under Construction – Your Tax Dollars Hard at Work – Thank You for Your Patience

I’m sure every one of my readers has experienced that aggravating feeling of being stuck in a construction related traffic jam. Cones, barrels, and signs direct us this way and that, we stop and start and then stop and start again, and frequently we aren’t even sure what the result of the construction will be and will it be an improvement?

We can all relate to that feeling – and that’s the feeling that many of us serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in Colorado have felt in the last two decades as we try to navigate the many changes our system has undergone.

To give you some idea of the kinds of barriers, stops, and starts our field has experienced, please take a look at the documents below, which was included as part of a Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) staff budget briefing for the Colorado State Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee. The document lists the significant policy changes which have taken place in Colorado’s I/DD system since 1999 (click on the images to make them larger).

Now, to be clear and fair, most of the changes were implemented for what on the surface appear to be good reasons and by people who I have no doubt want the best for our fellow citizens who happen to have developmental disabilities. But the sheer number of changes, many of which were enacted seemingly with little regard to other existing rules or policies, and many of which were unfunded mandates placing the financial burden of implementing them on community providers, can make even the most dedicated champions of people with I/DD wonder when and where the traffic jam of complex policies will end.

While this may just sound like complaining about making the lives of those that work at Imagine! and similar organizations across the state more difficult, the issue is much bigger than that. The policy traffic jam has created significant uncertainty in our field, and may have the potential to put access to services and people at risk. When organizations don’t know the best route to take to get clear of the blocked traffic, it is likely many will just pull over and park and wait and see what happens next.

Parking and waiting is not an option in this case. We have a responsibility, all of us in the system, to get ourselves out of this traffic jam so we can ensure that Coloradoans with I/DD can live fulfilling lives in their homes and communities.

Then again, what do I know?

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