A Giant Step Toward Simple
By Shari Repinski
Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director
Rocky Mountain Human Services
I remember a conversation from many years back. It was late in the evening, and I had scheduled time to talk to Maria, a mother of a young adult son. She reached out to me because at that time, I was working in the state government agency that administers services to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The problem, as Maria described it, was that she had been in contact with several different agencies to seek help for her son. First, the county human services office, then the Community Centered Board (CCB), and lastly, the Single-Entry Point (SEP). She endured the lengthy, redundant, but required processes of submitting information, telling her story to separate agencies and waiting for answers. Tired and frustrated, she reached out to me (the state) for help.
Maria was caught between two separate systems of care. One that coordinated supports to persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities(I/DD) and one that coordinated supports for persons with other types of disabilities. While the two agencies often work together in situations like hers, it was complicated and difficult. She was left worried and concerned about the process that ensued to find the services her son desperately needed.
Maria’s experience was not unusual. Historically in Colorado, the State organized two very similar case management systems administered through local entry point and case management agencies. While the CCBs have been focused on individuals with I/DD and the SEPs focused on persons with other disabilities, they often work independent of one another. It has created confusion and duplication when a person is in search of services or needed care. And to make matters more complicated, if the person has complex needs, such as mental health needs or chronic physical health conditions, the person could have additional agencies and case managers involved in their life. While RMHS and a few agencies like us have brought these two case management systems together, most are still administered separately across the state.
The Colorado State agency in charge, Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) recognized the need for action to create more clarity and efficiency. They have been working diligently to change laws and gather feedback to create a simpler and more efficient system. Over this next year, HCPF will be taking big and bold steps toward a new way to organize and administer case management across Colorado. They will be laying the groundwork to bring the two separate case management systems of the CCB and SEP into single entities called “case management agencies”. These case management agencies will look very similar to the way RMHS looks right now and will be replicated in 21 different geographical regions across the state. It will take at least two more years to finish the redesign, but much progress is being made today.
RMHS provides other care coordination services that won’t be directly impacted by this HCPF change. These other services are a result of our commitment to do our part in simplifying the way a person is connected to the right place. We can’t always change the unfortunate reality that Maria experienced: Sometimes, when you need supports, there is a lot to think about and a lot to do. Our hope is that we can do all that we can to make it easier by understanding each person’s unique experience and exploring all options together.
RMHS strongly supports HCPF efforts to redesign the way a person accesses needed supports. By integrating the two independent case management systems under single entities, the state can reduce the number of phone calls and the number of times a person would be required to tell their very personal story. We, and others across the state, can make it simpler. We can all help by freeing the person from the frustrating task of searching for the right place to start. We know that there may be additional changes for us as the redesign moves through some phases. We are excited to see the possibilities and to prepare for a change that will be a giant step toward simple.
We are committed to keeping you informed of changes along the way. In the meantime, if you would like more information or to provide input to HCPF’s efforts to redesign the case management system, please use the following links: