For the past year and a half, I've been working with various advocacy organizations, stakeholders, and lawmakers to bring Colorado's autism insurance mandate into compliance with federal law. It might sound droll, but doing so will give children with autism access to medically necessary levels of treatment.
If you find yourself thinking, Well, why is that so important?, just take a look at your prescription bottle the next time your doctor gives you antibiotics; that prescribed dose is what's going to help your body fight off the infection. The same is true for children with autism: their treatment levels need to be at a certain level to be effective. However, they aren't "fighting an infection," but rather gaining the skills necessary to live independent lives.
So, this year and a half of work has lead to the creation of SB 15-015. For those who don't read legalese, this means senate bill #15 in the year 2015.
Despite so much work behind me, there's actually more sitting just right before me. After all, I want to ensure that the last year and a half of work leads to a passed bill. So now, my days are spent...
1. Answering emails
From the second Craig wakes us up at 5am, to the minute my head hits the pillow, I'm constantly answering emails. These emails talk about strategies, upcoming meetings, possible concerns, coordinating efforts, etc. As a result, my phone is ALWAYS almost out of battery.
2. Keeping track of amendments
I never imagined that so much of my time would be spent talking about amending proposed amendments to our amendments (which are actually themselves amending other amendments), but that's how the cards fell. Last week I spent my entire Thursday trying to find out where a comma needed to be placed and...those standing up should probably sit down... I HAD FUN DOING IT!
3. Talking to legislators
I can now say I'm amazed that a bill EVER becomes a law. Lawmakers are overtaken with a swarm of fact sheets, emails, phone calls, and office visitors from the second the legislative session starts. So, it becomes necessary to compete with all that buzz to help lawmakers see why YOUR bill is important enough to vote for. This last Monday, I drove down with a friend from The Arc of Larimer County to take HHS Committee members a drawing that Craig made of a "man with armpits" and talk about why SB 15-015 is so vital. I'm sure that there will be many more trips like this over the next few weeks.
|Craig's "man with armpits" made its way into the HHS Committee Hearing|
There are meetings to plan for meetings, meeting to talk after meetings, meetings think about future meetings, and the actual meetings themselves. Right now, I'm working to plan a meeting to decide what meetings need to happen before the BLT hearing (which sadly doesn't serve tasty sandwiches...but is another meeting).
|Here I am testifying at a HHS Committee Meeting|
Remember in point #3 when I mentioned how overtaken legislators are with emails, phone calls, and fact sheets? Part of cutting through that mess is making sure that other people are calling too. After all, a lawmaker hearing a staff member say, While you were eating at BLT at the BLT hearing, you got this fact sheet about SB 15-015, is always beat out by, While you were out eating a BLT at the BLT hearing, you got a fact sheet about SB 15-015, 3 people stopped by to ask you to vote for SB 15-015, 12 people called asking you to vote for SB 15-015, and 30 people emailed asking you to vote for SB 15-015. I think it's time you consider voting for SB 15-015! You see, when stuff like that happens, SB 15-015 passes the Senate HHS Committee with a UNANIMOUS vote! After SB 15-015 passes its first committee with a unanimous vote, I feel like this: