Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why a "cost-based funding model" required a team of smarties to promote.

It should be an axiom of policy discussion that any words joining "model" in a phrase are euphemistic.  The Lanterman Coalition put forward an 8-or-so point platform together which is sadly circulating.  Of the points on their platform, in all likelihood, restoration of Early Start was the most meritorious and the most inevitable.   

In part I turn my attention to the plank advocating a "cost-based funding model" to partly offset the shrugs and nods likely to greet the proposal but more because I think that proposal is emblematic of the worst habits of advocates.  It is the south pole of advocacy, the place from which every direction is up. 

To translate "cost-based funding model" into English, the policy proposed is that the correct cost of services is determined by what the service provider spends.  Greybeards like me will recall this policy as the predominant one in 2002 at the dawn of a dozen catastrophic years.  Advocates like me and many of my friends on the Lanterman Coalition spent a great deal of time in Sacramento arguing that the model was unsustainable without an enormous increase in state funding.  Those of us who are eager to try the case that a $5 billion system needs to be a $12 billion system, which is to say, those of us eager to revisit 2002-2013 have their agenda and a coalition of statewide agencies for partners.

Another problem with the cost-plus model, other than that it quickly becomes a cost-minus model, is that true costs are hard to discover.  Translating the specific term "cost-based" from the original euphemism is "spending-based," a quantity that is not dependably related to necessary or constructive expenditures.

I will post soon about some reasonable alternatives, but the point I would get across in this post, is that anyone ready and willing to learn from experience, after the last dozen years and with the next dozen in prospect, should include sustainability as a principle of any system for which we would or should advocate.  I agree with my friends that the system is underfunded to do what it is meant to do the way it currently does it.  At least some of our advocacy needs to focus on sources of waste, potential sources of formal intelligence and engineering resilience into the system.

It isn't clear that a fully funded status quo would sensibly improve lives for people with developmental disabilities, but taxpayers surely would notice.

3 comments:

-paul- said...

Doug:

May I be so bold as to make a request? I would love to see a discussion, or at least your two-cents and perhaps a penny for the thoughts of others, about a subject that is not about CA public policy, funding, or the monthly budget cycle. You did declare that the first series will be about some of the thinking behind your all-staff training in May.

At the end of the day, not matter what the end result of the budget cycle or legislative session, you have services to provide. How about your thoughts on Human resources: sourcing, hiring, and managing.

Pretty please?

Doug Pascover said...

I meant to do just that. And I happen to have some time this morning.

Doug Pascover said...

I thought your request was pretty reasonable and even flattering, but I punished it with dullness anyway.