Written by Maureen Welch, Volunteer Activist and parent
of case management client at RMHS
Protected under the First Amendment, freedom of expression.
It's time to transition to a competitive process to ensure quality, conflict free choice of services for Denver residents with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). Denver has a unique property tax (or "mill levy"), which has always gone to one organization for past fifteen years. Currently, an incredible of $17.5M is projected for 2018 Denver IDD Mill Levy. It is better to look at trying something completely new, rather than repeat what has already been done with limited success and unspent funds the last two years.
Denver Ordinance was updated in early 2017 to allow the City the flexibility to contract with any organization or company, interested in meeting the unmet needs of residents of Denver for this $17.5M a year. Yet RMHS continues to be the sole agency of Mill Levy funds. Many local agencies are very interested in serving the IDD. Currently they must go to RMHS to ask for funding and must agree to their oppressive requirements, including IDD contractors to surrender rights to all their intellectual property. This limits who might apply to have to get paid through RMHS. It also places control of multiple millions in a private non profit's leadership top officers, most likely creating a relationship of fear and control.
Access to individual funding for unique requests ("client assistance funds") is arbitrary, and unclear with case managers acting as gatekeepers, issuing verbal denials rather than true processing of requests. This calls into question all the client assistance approval/denial rate data shared from RMHS to Denver in the Mill Levy Reports. It also leads to question of how much need is not going to be requested, as word on the street is the process is long, difficult, requiring a lot of time with multiple letters just to be told no.
It is well past time to move Denver IDD Mill Levy into the 21st century and out of the centralized "mother-may-I", human services with FTE heavy monopoly at RMHS. Currently there is no room for innovation when one agency and people at the very top of leadership calling all the shots.
New opportunities might emerge with competition. There is an established company with local presence, interested in making a proposal of an automated payment processing system, with client empowered access for use of approved funds. Open an RFP process for innovative ideas, not currently those categories of services already available.
It takes a lot of chutzpah for RMHS to ask for 88% of the total tax fund given all their history, past and present. Without a competitive bid process, this a simple Money Grab which grants Rocky Mountain Human Services' (RMHS) huge power over services for a vulnerable population.
Not only does RMHS have control to all the millions, and keep $8M a year for their own organization, now they have the gall to request a raise the allowable administrative/overhead from 15 to 18%? Unbelievable!
1. It is prudent to make a shorter term contract, to examine several forthcoming audit reports on Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS) coming forth in next year. Also, Denver Human Services has a consultant working on a needs assessment due in July.
- State: The 2015 Denver Auditor office report cited major deficiencies which triggered state legislation for increased transparency and Office of State Auditor is wrapping up a state wide audit of all 20 CCBs, including RMHS, per SB16-038.
- Local: The Denver Auditor Office has RMHS scheduled for an audit team in first quarter of 2019.
- In my late March 2018 newsletter, I shared that RMHS allowed funds from mill levy to be used inappropriately. Both Denver Human Services (DHS) and RMHS failed to ensure recipients were both Denver residents with intellectual/Developmental Disability (IDD) status.
2. RMHS Discriminatory Treatment: Several State Civil Rights Division complaints at Colorado Civil Rights Division have been filed against RMHS, more are coming, and at least one is cross filed at EEOC (Federal level). Many are too fearful to file these due to the centralized control of RMHS and the monopoly of controlling Mill Levy dollars.
3. The word on the street is that RMHS likely has misused funds from the Denver Mill Levy.
- Allowing one organization and its CEO/leadership team, far too much control over $17.5M a year in flexible funding might by many, be considered a very high risk move. It allows one organization, already with a monopoly of captured IDD clients with no local choice, to have unwieldy power over access to these funds by a vulnerable population, the IDD.
- I, Maureen Welch, had raised concerning findings at a board meeting in May, and CFO of RMHS, John Wetherington, stated that “Denver Human Services said it was ok" that some funds were not used for Denver or IDD.
- CEO at RMHS, Shari Repinski, stated that Denver Human Services auditor was constantly monitoring.
- Approximately the same time, a DHS internal auditor assigned to this RMHS contract, Cynthia Hinojosa, went on leave and now “no longer works for DHS” (per Justin Sykes of DHS). Official details are not available, since it is a human resources issue, but the action raises eyebrows about who is protecting who and if there is the cover-up?
5. The Community Advisory Council (CAC) at RMHS is bogus. The City was lead to believe that this group would have input into the use of mill levy funds when in fact, they only learn of expenditures/decisions after they are already made. Several members have expressed frustration and asked what their purpose was, if their areas of expertise were not consulted before RMHS made large commitments for these dollars.
6. Open Denver Mill LevyFunding to a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
- When the Council codified the Mill Levy for IDD into Ordinance, it created flexibility for City contracting with other with other organizations to meet the unmet needs of Denver residents with IDD.
- The city is no longer limited to using just a CCB, RMHS as it was historically.
- There will be multiple case management agencies in Denver in the near future per federal Final Rule.
- RMHS has proven they do not have efficient processes to get money “out the door”, demonstrated by the balance in the cash account of nearly $9M which went unspent in last two fiscal years.
7. Just say “NO" to raising the allowable overhead from current 15% to 18%. Those are millions of dollars that potentially would go into a private non profit, rather then directly reach Denver's IDD residents.
- RMHS already steers nearly half the mill levy to themselves, about $8M a year for their own services provided (case management, behavioral services, and coordination).
- The Denver Auditor’s Office expressed serious concerns about overhead cost containment; It was an area of focus in the 2015 Denver Auditor’s RMHS audit report.
- RMHS appears to be a greedy, controlling and oppressive gatekeeper. As a pass through, they wield their power and control, making many individual client requests so lengthy and burdensome so many just give up.
- For community partners, RMHS takes high overhead to act as no more than a “pass through”; Mill levy Subcontracting Community Partners are forced to sign over their intellectual property to RMHS and take on huge insurance policies.
- Why not allow Community Partners to respond to RFPs for services directly rather than have a “mother-may-I” relationship to RMHS, costing 15%?
8. RMHS announced it will be awarded the CDHS “transition specialist” contract for nearly $5M a year to transition patients from the state’s two mental institutions Fort Logan and Pueblo into community living. They is a shiny new revenue source for them, in mental health services. Many in the medicaid community of providers have expressed surprise and wonder about how RMHS won this lucrative contract, since they don't have expertise in this arena.
Attend a community meeting Monday June 11th afternoon at 4:30 pm or at 5:30pm to share YOUR opinions/experiences about Mill levy and Unmet need, hosted by Health Management Associates (HMS) . HMA was hired by Denver Human Services for $50,000, to conduct and submit a needs assessment.
Public meeting on DHS' needs assessment of services for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
You may also join the discussion via phone at 1-877-668-4493 (access code 732 060 503#) or via Webex (http://bit.ly/2sB8lzx). In addition, the first presentation session of the meeting (4-5:30 p.m.) will be broadcast via Facebook Live from the Denver Human Services Facebook page.
Open to the public, providers, people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and other stakeholders.
Monday, June 11, Two sessions, at 4pm and 5:30 pm
Laradon, 5100 Lincoln Street, Denver, CO 80216
Survey results from the City and County of Denver’s Assessment of Services for Denver residents with I/DD will be presented at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Attendees will have the opportunity to react and provide additional feedback after each presentation.
Questions? Contact Robyn Odendahl, Health Management Associates, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A sign language interpreter or open captioning via CART provided upon request by contacting SignLanguageServices@denvergov.org.
Both the 2.5 year $37.5M contract and raise of 3% for administrative overhead (from 15 to 18%). City Council Action Items are up at SAFEHOUSE Committee Wed 6/13/18 10:30am
*Briefing, Public comment and Action will be taken in Committee on June 13 at 10:30 am City and County Building 1437 Bannock St., Rm. 391 Denver, CO 80202.
*Comment limited to two to three minutes a person. Fine to bring written hand out. To sign up to speak, early, before 10am if possible, sign up closes at 10:15. There is a max of 15 minutes total of comment allowed, so get there early to make sure you are top of the speaker list.
*If you cannot come but want someone attending to read a written very short statement, that is acceptable. They also can submit written statement for you. And you can email the committee staff contact Shelly Smith email@example.com or call Phone: 720-337-2000 and ask for her.
18-0588 Bill approves a $37.5 million contract with Rocky
Mountain Human Services, over two and a half years. (Three segments are delineated in this contract, 1- initial five month contract for rest of 2018, a second optional extension for 2019 and Third optional extension for for 2020.) According to staff, this contract allows for Denver Human Services to extend the contract under this bill for these two additional, one year terms.
18-0589 Ordinance Change: Amends Section 53-550 of the Denver Revised Municipal Code (DRMC) to authorize the use of dedicated mill levy revenue to provide services to children up to age five with developmental delays and people seeking a developmental disabilities or delays determination and to increase the allowable administrative and overhead percentage to 18% (currently is 15%) of total expenses through 2020.
1. Here is link to committee meeting info https://denver.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=607830&GUID=8004BBF4-F22B-4C75-B9FE-DE08FD20F75D&Options=info&Search=
2. Link to contract request (18-0588) and June 13 Powerpoint for committee https://denver.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3504798&GUID=CCD4F698-06F6-4ED1-BF70-EBDDCB0C3B95
3. Link to ordinance change request (18-0589 to raise admin/overhead to 18% and includes updated draft language.