Things are moving fast! There is progress in the stakeholder process with legislators, to get a Transparency in CCBs bill. But recent discovery of a secret trip in February 2016, to Washington DC, makes one rethink the Alliance/CCB claim to be negotiating in good faith. This post is very long, due to the speed and news of the week AND that I want to keep posts to once a week if possible.
First, all 20 CCBS are currently members of the Alliance, a political association which lobbies on their behalf. In addition, many Colorado Community Centered Boards (CCBs) have their own dedicated paid professional lobbyists. Now, we recently discovered that 18 of the 20 CCBs have voted to pool significant sums of money, one CCB approved $30,000, in order to hire a high power Washington DC Law Firm, Squire Patton Boggs. (Shout out to the two who said no- Rocky Mountain Human Services and The Resource Exchange).
The purpose? CCBs want to maintain their status quo and are going to great, expensive lengths to avoid obeying both the Federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid System's (CMS) Final Rule on Conflict Free Case Management (CFCM)and Colorado HB15-1318 for CFCM.
These 18 CCBs believe they are above the law and somehow exempt from mitigating conflict of interest rules?
Where does this DC lobbying money, estimated to be about $540,000, come from? Is it the CCB's general fund, which is up to 90% government funded? How can we know without total transparency? The fact is we cannot know, and likely will not know. We need multi faceted transparency approaches, to catch longer term trends backwards and to know where the money is flowing today.
This DC effort has only come to our attention with the careful downloading, organizing and reading of hundreds of pages of Board of Director minutes from all CCBs, many of which we had to special request by phone or email as they were not on the websites. We still have incomplete information because the CCBs are not required to reveal their expenditures, contracts or finances since they are private 501c3s. This situation validates the urgent need for legislation.
To ensure proper use of funds, legislation should include
1. Regular Financial and Performance audits by the State Auditor office of every CCB, at minimum every five years.
2. Extend Colorado Open Records Act coverage to CCBs for things like contracts of this expenditure on DC lobbyists, among other things.
2. To enable real time tracking of expenditures, the component of online check book register activity allows modern transparency of financial transactions, similar to what is required of school districts in Colorado.
It is time all the CCBs face the music- they have to accept transparency as a Federal and State requirement. The law does apply to them. Comply and adapt OR just get out of the government contract business.
What can you do? Get involved by attending CCB meetings around the state. We are adding more and more meetings on the calendar on the website, let me know if your is missing. Read up on your CCBs contracts, minutes, bylaws and board members in advance, as preparation. Come with your questions, compliments and concerns. Bring your family, friends, and neighbors. Send me a summary and pictures of your Board of Director meeting experience.
See the calendar and check often as volunteers are updating regularly the various CCB Board of Director meetings across the state. http://www.peoplefirstcolorado.com/calendar/?view=calendar&month=March-2016
Sadly, the lack of CCB oversight and proper monitoring and training costs lives. Many people in services with CCB case management have died due to abuse and neglect. Thousands of cases have occurred, and often local DAs decline to prosecute. Finally, there has been an indictment of a residential provider, the first one ever in Colorado for victims with intellectual disabilities. But where was the Boulder County CCB Imagine? What was the relationship of the indicted's first and second husband in the disability service world? Is that why complaints went unanswered? It took a respite worker from Craigslist to blow the whistle.
Imagine claims to be very transparent. We plan on asking challenging questions about these decisions at the Tuesday March 29th 5:45 community forum followed by a 7pm Board of Directors meeting in Lafayette. Both are public meetings.
3.21.16 Indictment of Neglect Abuse in a residential host home situation
3.25.16 Colorado Springs The Resource Exchange Fight for Transparency