OTAC 2023 Hill Day a roaring success!
The purpose of OTAC Hill Day is to provide OT practitioners and students the opportunity to represent and advocate for OT practice in Colorado with state legislators. The 2023 Colorado legislature is made up of many new senators and representatives and Hill Day is a great opportunity for OT practitioners to connect with and educate legislators about occupational therapy is and the positive impact it has on peoples' lives.
This year, Hill Day was on February 23, 2023 and 16 OTAC members met one-on-one with some of Colorado state representatives and senators to learn about legislation they are sponsoring, an overview of the legislative process and opportunities to engage in advocacy. OTAC members shared information and background about occupational therapy practice and discussed their support for current legislative initiatives. This in-person meeting gave OT practitioners the opportunity to share with our legislators the scope of practice of occupational therapy, in particular in the areas of mental and behavioral health. It was great to have the time to sit and chat, ask questions, and develop relationships with our amazing legislators!
We gave out OT "swag" in the form of coffee mugs and "calm strips" with information about OT and addressing sensory processing regulation.
Recap of Hill Day:
Meeting with representatives, a senator, and a representative aide, we learned about a number of bills to be introduced that will address mental health and other issues of interest to OT practitioners and students.
This includes Senate Bill 23-091, sponsored by Senator Kolker, to allow access to behavioral health services for those under age 21 with Medicaid for certain risk factors that impact health. These factors include adverse childhood experiences and other social determinants of health like food and housing insecurity. OTAC supports this bill as it increases access to services for people who are experiencing mental health issues as a result of risk factors, but do not have a specific mental health diagnosis. You can read more about this bill here: https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2023A/bills/2023a_091_01.pdf
Representative Michaelson Jenet has a number of bills with a mental health focus including sponsoring HB23-103 School Mental Health Assessment - Concerning the creation of the "Sixth Through Twelfth Grade Mental Health Assessment Act." The bill creates the sixth through twelfth grade mental health assessment program (program) administered by the department of public health and environment (department). OTAC fully supports this bill and Rep. Michaelson Jenet's advocacy for increased mental health programs in our state. Read more here: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb23-1003
Representative Garcia is sponsoring bill HB23-1203 that would permit a parent or guardian of a minor child who is in a home- or community-based program to serve as the child's authorized representative while also serving as the child's attendant. The pediatric therapists who attended Hill Day were very interested in the positive implications of this bill for families. Read more here: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb23-1203
Representative Titone is sponsoring HB23-1218 Health Facility Patient Information Denied Service. This bill would require that a health-care facility inform patients as part of the informed consent process of services that the health-care facility refuses to provide to patients when the refusal is for non-medical reasons. Read more here: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb23-1218
Representative Titone is also sponsoring HB 23-1198 Teacher Externship Program For Science Technology Engineering And Math Disciplines that would create a statewide teacher externship program to provide kindergarten through twelfth grade teachers work-based learning opportunities in specified disciplines. Read more here: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb23-1198
Representative Marshall is sponsoring HB23-1052 for a requirement that a veteran who has individual employability status (less than 100%) be treated equivalently to a veteran who has one hundred percent permanent disability when determining eligibility for state veterans benefits. OTAC supports this bill as it aligns with other states in providing benefits to veterans who have partial disabilities. Read more here: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb23-1052
We also met with Representative Brown's legislative aide and learned more about the role of the legislative aide (a lot!) in supporting their legislator. Representative Brown is also co-sponsoring HB23-1218 with Representative Titone. https://leg.colorado.gov/legislators/kyle-brown
Thank you to Heidi Kunugi, OTAC Public Policy Chairperson and her volunteers for their coordination and organization of this event! Thank you to Katy Oatis and Steve Balcerovich, OTAC lobbyists, for their hard work in arranging for our meeting space and legislator meetings. And for all the hard work they do in advocating for occupational therapy practice for us in the legislature!
If you are interested in learning more about Hill Day and OTAC public policy efforts, contact Heidi to volunteer on the Legislative Committee at email@example.com
OTAC is the Occupational Therapy Association of Colorado. It is a non-profit organization that strives to increase the quality of care and level of professionalism to the practice of OT in Colorado.
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