On March 17, 2016, Rep. Dave Young and Sen. Kevin Grantham introduced HB 16-1394 – Concerning Clarifying Definitions Related to At-Risk Persons. The bill was assigned to the House Health, Insurance, & Environment Committee, where it was amended and referred to the House floor for Second Reading. The House Committee of the Whole re-referred the bill back to the Health, Insurance, & Enviroment Committee, where it again passed with no further amendments.
The bill implements the following recommendations of the at-risk adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities mandatory reporting implementation task force.
(1) Standardizing statutory definitions among the “Colorado Criminal Code,” the Office of Protective Services for At-risk Adults in the Department of Human Services, and the Office of Community Living in the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.
Under the Colorado Criminal Code, a number of amendments and additions were made to the definitions section of article 6.5, wrongs to at-risk adults, of which the following are noteworthy: “at risk person” means an at-risk adult, adult with an intellectual and developmental disability (IDD), elder, or juvenile; “exploitation” is expanded to include harassment, undue influence, or intimidation used to create a hostile environment; “mistreated” or “mistreatment” means abuse, caretaker neglect, exploitation, act/omission that threatens the health, safety, or welfare of at at-risk person, or act/omission that exposes an at-risk person to an imminent risk of bodily injury.
Under the Human Services Code, the following terms, as defined under the Criminal Code (and amended by this bill), were added to the definitions section of article 3.1, protective services for at-risk adults: “abuse,” “at-risk adult” (newly defined therein), and “mistreatment.”
Under the Health Care Policy and Financing statutes, the following terms, as defined under the Criminal Code (and amended by this bill), were added to the definitions section of article 10, community living: “abuse,” “authorized representative,” “caretaker,” “caretaker neglect,” “exploitation,” “mistreated” or “mistreatment,” and “undue influence.”
(2) Specifying that enhanced penalties for crimes against an at-risk person (as amended from “at-risk adults and at-risk juveniles”) apply to all persons 70 years of age or older and to all persons with a disability.
(3) Clarifying and expanding the definitions of persons who are required to report instances of mistreatment of at-risk elders or at-risk adults with IDD. With respect to the Colorado Criminal Code, the list of mandatory reporters is expanded to include: any person providing health care or health-care-related services; emergency first responders; code enforcement officers; veterinarians; psychologists, counselors and therapists; persons performing case management or assistant services; staff of county departments of human or social services; staff of the State Departments of Human Services, Public Health and Environment, or Health Care Policy and Financing; staff of senior congregate centers; staff of area agencies on aging; those operating specialized transportation services; staff of housing agencies for at-risk adults; and personnel at schools serving students in preschool through twelfth grade. The list of mandatory reporters under the Human Services Code was expanded in the same manner as the list of mandatory reporters under the Criminal Code.
(4) Under the Human Services Code, the time when a law enforcement agency or county department is required to prepare a written report is reduced from 48 hours to 24 hours.
(5) Specifying that a county department of human or social services, pursuant to the Human Servicers Code, is to conduct an investigation of allegations of mistreatment of an at-risk adult.
(6) Clarifies that the human rights committee, pursuant to the Health Care Policy and Financing statutes, is responsible for ensuring the investigation of allegations of mistreatment of persons with IDD.
Max Montag is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.