2/9/2016 Legislative Priorities -By Dawn Howard
The legislative session at the State Capitol kicked off last month and is in full swing. CCDC has begun taking positions on certain ones – of which all are in sync with our values and protect and advance the rights of Coloradans with all types of disabilities. Throughout legislative session, we will be sending updates on the status of bills that impact people with disabilities and the action we're taking to make sure there is nothing about us, without us. To keep up to date with the bills that CCDC is supporting, opposing, or monitoring, you can visit our website.
There are two pieces of legislation we’re working on that have yet to be introduced, one of these involves Medicaid Appeals and the other is to eliminate the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS).*
Here below are the positions CCDC has taken on a few bills that have been introduced which impact the disability community.
In employment advocacy:
SB16-077, Employment First for Persons with Disabilities
CCDC POSITION STRONGLY SUPPORT
Bill will increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Need to make sure all people with disabilities are included.
HB16-1037, Income Tax Credit Employment of Persons With Disabilities
CCDC POSITION - AMEND
This bill provides tax credits for employers who hire employees who are blind or live with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Hopefully it can be amended to include those with self-care disabilities. All three groups have very low rates of employment. It also provides tax credits to maintain and repair technology which assist employees with disabilities to perform their jobs.
In health care and health care equity advocacy:
HB16-1054/SB 16-025, End-of-Life Options for the Terminally Ill
CCDC POSITION - STRONGLY OPPOSE
This bill would make it legal to prescribe life ending drugs. It doesn’t provide safeguards to protect against abuse and coercion.
HB16-1101, Medical Care for Unrepresented Patients
CCDC POSITION - STRONGLY OPPOSE (as is)
Bill allows an attending physician to make healthcare decisions for a patient who is unable to and who doesn’t does have a proxy decision maker and reasonable measures have been taken to find a proxy decision maker. Must be amended to ensure patient can appeal care when s/he is able.
In civil rights advocacy:
SB16-038, Transparency of Community-centered Boards
CCDC POSITION STRONGLY SUPPORT
Bill would force agencies which serve individuals with intellectual disabilities to be audited every 5 years. Money mismanagement has been found by a City of Denver audit.
SB16-026, Personal Rights of Protected Persons
CCDC POSITION SUPPORT WITH AMENDMENTS
Bill would protect those who have a guardian from being isolated. Need to amend it so individuals can see friends.
* In 2015, specifically we advanced state policy to try to solve The Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) Problem in Colorado. In the past few years, CCDC advocates have represented several clients who use the Supported Living Services (SLS) waiver and then had their needs change. The process used by The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) to determine the dollar amount, duration and scope of SLS services is called the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS). CCDC and other advocacy organizations believe the SIS is not an appropriate or satisfactory tool, particularly the way it has been implemented in Colorado.
As a result of the issues uncovered in our individual advocacy, CCDC wrote a white paper on the problems. This, in turn, led to the general assembly amending HB 15-1318 in the last legislative session, requiring HCPF to justify to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) continued use of the SIS. We recently learned that this national SIS tool is being changed and the current version will no longer be available in the future nationwide. This year, we are advocating that the state phase it out, rather than spend the significant time and money to implement the new version immediately.
For more details on bills introduced this session, please check out CCDC’s Policy and Legislation page on our website. Feel free to contact Dawn Howard, Community Organizer, with any questions. You can reach Dawn at firstname.lastname@example.org