The Board of Directors and staff at The Resource Exchange (TRE) take seriously our role in contributing to thoughtful public policy and legislative advocacy that benefits people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families. Legislation and the Rule and Regulations that result from it can significantly impact people with IDD, and on TRE’s ability to support them in a person-centered, person-directed way. Our focus tends to be in the following areas.
Regulatory Modernization. The Regulations that govern Colorado’s system of supports for people with IDD last underwent a major reform in the late 1980s. In the interim, the system and the people it is intended to support have evolved dramatically. Current Regulations are, in many cases, irrelevant to a 21st century system and do nothing meaningful to influence the quality of life of people with IDD. Regulations also drive costs. Colorado services for people with IDD are monitored by four State Departments, including Human Services, Health Care Policy and Financing, Public Health and Environment, and Regulatory Affairs, inevitably resulting in an unnecessarily complex and difficult to navigate system. We also must concern ourselves with the need to have a system of regulations that support self-determination to fullest possible extent. We believe the Colorado service system for people with IDD and their families must be modernized in a way that assures scarce resources are dedicated to people and their families rather than spend them on outdated and outmoded compliance concerns.
Waiver Consolidation. There are 13 Medicaid waivers (also called Home and Community Based Services) in Colorado, at least four of which are designed specifically for people with IDD. We continue to push for streamlining and making these services more simple to navigate, as well as weighing in on complications that may arise as a result of consolidation. Our litmus test in any such consideration is whether or not consolidation will increase service flexibility, transition the service system from system-directed to person-directed, and result in spectacular outcomes for people with IDD and their families.
Strategic Financing. Always a hot topic, the ways in which and amounts of investments and ongoing financing of Colorado services for people with IDD are a central focus for TRE. Over the past 15 years, funding for services to people with IDD in Colorado has lagged costs of doing business by over 25%. The result has been inevitable erosion of system capacity that can keep pace with demand.
TRE believes that rates that support services for people with IDD and their families should keep pace with costs. We also believe that Colorado should consider making targeted, surgical investments in system capacity to assure that people with IDD and their families have viable service options in their home communities. Finally, we believe that our system’s regulatory framework is duplicative and reflects an out-of-favor paternalism that both drives unnecessary costs and precludes the fullest expression of self-determination by people with IDD. To give you a sense of scale, if our system could find a 5% reduction in costs related to duplicative, out of date regulation, it could save the Colorado system as much as $17.5 million or more. We must continue to push for a multi-faceted, strategic approach to system financing to assure the system is investing in the right things to benefit people with IDD and their families.
Lobbying. To ensure our voice is being heard in Denver, TRE maintains a relationship with a paid, professional lobbyist to advocate for our community. Our lobbyist, Ed Bowditch, has a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University and an undergraduate degree from Colorado College in History/Political Science. His professional experience includes having spent three years on staff at Legislative Council, seven years as senior staff to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) and one year as Deputy Director of the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB). He possesses an unparalleled familiarity with the state budget process and has been working exclusively as a lobbyist since 2007.
Legislative Town Hall on Developmental Disabilities. Each October, TRE and our partners host a Legislative Town Hall on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities that introduces the extraordinary people we serve and their families to members of our local, State and federal elected delegations. Through the Town Hall, which we launched in 2006, stakeholders and constituents of Colorado’s system of supports for people with IDD engage the people we all elect to public office to share concerns and hopes, challenges and opportunities. These Town Halls also enable TRE understand firsthand the areas on which we need to focus and in which our voices are most needed. This plays a profound role in setting our public policy and legislative advocacy priorities.