By Carol Meredith, Executive Director
It’s hard to believe we are nearing the end of March and already in the middle of the 2016 legislative session in Colorado. During each session, your local chapters of The Arc meet with lobbyists at Mendez Consulting to discuss our position on legislation that affects individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). There aren’t many bills that focus on our population this session; however, there are several proposed bills with outcomes that will affect us. Staff from local chapters meet weekly for a “public policy call” to discuss which bills we support/strongly support, oppose/strongly oppose, should monitor, should amend, or hold a neutral position.
So far this year The Arcs: strongly support 5 bills, support 13, are monitoring 10, want to amend one, oppose four and strongly oppose two bills this session.
Here’s a breakdown…
Both bills we strongly opposed died early – these bills were in support of assisted suicide. All chapters of The Arc in Colorado share a uniform position, created and voted on by members nationwide that strongly oppose physician-assisted suicide. Our chapters’ position is delineated by our national chapter, The Arc of The United States.
The bills we strongly support include:
- HB (House Bill) 16-1195 concerning home modification services in Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers;
- HB 16-1321 concerning Medicaid Buy-In for certain Medicaid waivers;
- HB 16-1308 concerning the offense of fraudulent misrepresentation of a service animal;
- SB (Senate Bill) 16-027 concerning the option for Medicaid clients to obtain prescribed drugs by mail;
- SB 16-077 concerning a collaborative approach to creating competitive integrative employment opportunities for people with disabilities. This bill passed out of committee on March 17.
We strongly supported SB 16-038 to promote the transparency of community-centered boards (CCBs). This bill was heard in committee, but has not been acted upon by the legislature. The Arcs have been involved in several stakeholder meetings to work on amendments that may allow the bill to pass – stay tuned.
We hoped for a late bill that would fund higher education for people with I/DD. So far, a lot of conversations have taken place, but we still have yet to see a bill drop.
HB 15-368, the cross-system response pilot for behavioral health to serve individuals with I/DD that the legislature funded last year, was awarded to Rocky Mountain Health Plans, the Regional Care Collaborative Organization (RCCO) in Grand Junction. It will operate in Grand Junction and Fort Collins during the testing phase. Our chapter was very involved in the development of this pilot and we look forward to learning what is working and not working in these systems of care.
Staff from our chapter also continues to serve on the following committees and workgroups: Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rules – Residential, Children’s Disability Advisory Committee, Children’s Services Steering Committee (Medicaid), Advocacy Communication (IDD/Medicaid), Community First Choice, Katy Becket Work Group (Children’s Home and Community Based Services waiver), Accountable Care Collaborative Medicaid and Medicare workgroup, SIM Advisory Committee and anything else that comes up during the month that we can attend in person or by phone.
If you want to learn more about The Colorado General Assembly, check out the official website. The site is full of information, they even provide links so you can listen to the committee hearings and view proceedings from your computer.
Please remember, we are a reflection of you, our members. We welcome and encourage you to contact us and tell us what you are thinking. Together we can positively influence the policy that affects our community.