2003 Legislative Session Topics

Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD) Position Papers [Editor’s note:  Due to space restrictions, we were not able to […]

Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD) Position Papers

[Editor’s note:  Due to space restrictions, we were not able to print each organization’s position paper in its entirety and each paper was condensed.  All topics are covered either under the organization or under the umbrella of the MN-CCD.  If anything was missed, please contact us so that we can bring it to the attention of the community in following issues.]

Introduction (from Arc MN)

The 2003 session is a budget year.  The economic slowdown continues to have a great impact on Minnesota’s budget.  The Minnesota Finance Department, in its November 2002 forecast, estimated a $4.6 billion shortfall in revenue for the next biennium (July 1, 2003–June 30, 2005).  All state government departments have been asked to prepare budget reduction proposals. 

Legislators will be focusing on the budget shortfall and will probably consider a combination of cutting services, cutting state department budgets and increasing taxes.  In order to address the deficit in Fiscal Year 2003 (July 1, 2002–June 30, 2003) the legislature shifted funding to next biennium, depleted reserve accounts, cut state department budgets and made minimal cuts in services.  This year all state government programs and services will be intensely reviewed.

In summary, we can expect a very difficult time in achieving major changes during the 2003 session and we will need to be prepared to advocate for the services we currently have in place.

MN-CCD

Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD)

MA-EPD should continue in 2003 without making any changes that could jeopardize productive lives of people with disabilities.  Before policy changes are made, several questions need to be answered:

  • Does MA-EPD promote increased employment of people with disabilities over time?
  • Are costs to MA reduced as more individuals gain access to employer health coverage?
  • Are costs to other government programs (food stamps, subsidized housing, etc.) reduced as MA-EPD enrollees increase their level of employment?
  • Are health care costs reduced as MA-EPD enrollees go to work and lead more productive and active lives?

Transit

  • Retain current funding levels, so that Metro Mobility trip denials are further reduced, recruitment and training of quality drivers is strengthened, and hours of operation and geographic scope of service can be expanded.
  • Continue to improve future planning efforts and strengthen the role of consumers in addressing accessible transit needs.
  • Support the efforts of persons with disabilities in greater Minnesota to improve transit options in their local communities.
  • Ensure that emerging transit choices (i.e. light rail and commuter rail systems) meet the needs of people with disabilities.
  • Support the development of a wholly accessible, fixed-route transit system, recognizing that this does not reduce the need for specialized, door-to-door paratransit service.

MN-CCD will follow strategy established by member organizations on the following issues—and track proposed bills and share information with members.

  • Budget
  • Affordable, accessible housing
  • Adequate and accessible dental care
  • Choice of case managers
  • Maltreatment of minors in educational settings
  • Mental health services (access and authorization)
  • Transportation
  • Lack of respite care
  • Parental fees and billing for those fees
  • Increased funding for extended employment
  • Programs for parents with developmental disabilities
  • Outreach to underserved and unserved populations

The Minnesota Disability Law Center will closely monitor the state budget deficit in order to best help MN-CCD organizations strategize how to maintain the programs that may become targeted for cuts.

Advocating Change Together

Self-Sufficiency Act

This bill will support individuals with developmental and mental health disabilities in becoming more productive, participating citizens.  The bill will allow the Department of Economic Security to issue a grant to provide training, technical assistance and resource materials to 200 people with disabilities.  $252,000 is needed for the biennium.

Arc Minnesota

Maintain and Preserve Current Services

We need to enhance and maintain the MR/RC Waiver, Family Subsidy and Semi Independent Living Services programs.  These programs along with others are the key to Minnesota’s community-based system.

Maintain Commitment to Education for All

We will work to support and strengthen our special education system by promoting positive behavioral interventions, continuing education for school personnel, and leading efforts to reduce the shortage of special education teachers.

School Medical Assistance Billing

We will work to improve notification to families by schools and maintain confidentiality of student records.

Association of Residential Resources in MN (ARRM)

One clear priority is a COLA in 2003 for home and community-based programs and their direct support professionals.  No increase will mean a cut in employee pay, fewer benefits or fewer staff.

For every $1 you cut you eliminate $2 in essential services that support Minnesotans with disabilities

Funding for home and community based programs is primarily Medical Assistance—with 50% coming from the state and 50% from the federal government.  Thus, when Minnesota cuts a dollar in supports to people with disabilities it effectively eliminates two dollars in services.  Conversely, a dollar increase adds two dollars to services—with almost all new funding going to the direct support professionals who are central to the provision of safe and adequate services to people with disabilities.

Brain Injury Association of Minnesota

Minnesota must develop a statewide program to connect children and adults who have sustained a brain injury with critical information and resources in a timely and ongoing basis.

  • Estimated annual cost is $1,500,000 per year.
  • Resource Facilitation (information, resources, and access to services and support for children and adults with brain injury and their families) can be paid for by implementing a $50 increase in the DUI license reinstatement fee.  (A leading cause of brain injuries in Minnesota is motor vehicle crashes. Over 50% of motor vehicle crashes involve alcohol.)

Coalition for Children with Disabilities

  • The Coalition will oppose efforts that will have the impact of reducing funding for special education support services.
  • The Coalition will monitor and likely become involved with any proposals dealing with the Maltreatment of Minors Act, as it relates to schools.
  • The Coalition has been involved in a DCFL work group to develop proposed legislation to make changes to the statutes governing alternative dispute resolution and due process procedures. It will be actively involved in any legislative proposals dealing with this issue.

The Metropolitan Center For Independent Living

It is imperative that MCIL, in collaboration with MN-CCD, continue to work to protect and improve services and programs.  Specific areas of focus not mentioned above will include:  Visitability standards for new housing built with state funds, service animal protections, and maintenance of state agencies/programs which serve people with disabilities such as Rehabilitation Services, Minnesota State Services for the Blind, and the Minnesota State Council on Disability.

MN State Council on Disability

Disability Parking Changes

Issues that need to be addressed legislatively include:

  • Establish a $50 surcharge on fines for violating the disability parking statutes;
  • Identify nurse practitioners as authorized to complete and sign disability parking applications;
  • Authorize the MSCOD to report suspected disability parking violators to DPS;
  • Clarify the 30-day permit language by removing references with the word “temporary” attached to “permit”;
  • Clarify that plates removed from vehicles that no longer qualify for disability plates need not be surrendered;
  • Mandate that disability parking signs manufactured after 8/1/04 must display the surcharge in addition to the fine for violation;
  • Clarify when a fee is due for a certificate and when one will be issued at no fee;

Election Judges Appointment Change

Support changes in statute that allow the appointment of election judges who are not affiliated with a major political party, to protect the disability-related provisions provided for in statute and to expand the distance outside a precinct where a polling place can be located.

NAMI-MN

Funding

NAMI-MN will take the lead in ensuring that all mental health services receive a cost of living increase during the next biennium and that payment rates are adjusted to address the shortages of mental health professionals and personnel.

Family Involvement

We will work to ensure that the mental health system recognizes the value of families in the recovery process for persons with mental illness and will take the lead on changing the reimbursement system to pay providers for working with families during the recovery process and changing the Data Practices Act so that appropriate information can be released to caregivers and actively involved family members.

Employment

NAMI-MN will work to expand the extended employment options for people with mental illness and seek legislation that would develop a better safety net for those individuals who are on unemployment and are applying for Social Security benefits.

Mental Health Service System

The Department of Human Services is to report to the Legislature in 2003 on the unmet mental health needs of children, adults and their families; the unmet need for specialized crisis teams trained in cultural competence to work with police to meet crisis mental health needs of immigrants and refugees; the barriers to meeting those needs; and long term strategies to overcoming those barriers.  NAMI-MN anticipates that there will be strategies proposed that will need to be addressed this legislative session.

NAMI-MN supports changing the reimbursement system to permit PACT (Program of Assertive Community Treatment:  an effective, evidence-based, outreach-oriented, services delivery model for people with severe and persistent mental illness) to be funded and developed in Minnesota.

NAMI-MN supports legislation to expand Medicaid to fund clinical supervision, telemedicine, culturally competent consultation, evaluations and management services within the mental health system.

NAMI-MN supports expanding the definition of mental illness under the Adult Mental Health Act to include severe anxiety disorders and to increase funds to meet the needs of people who would then become eligible for services.

Health Care System

NAMI-MN supports changes to equalize the payment rates and to provide incentives in those communities where there are shortages of psychiatrists and clinical nurse specialists.

Corrections/Justice System

NAMI-MN will take the lead to decriminalize mental illness by expanding the number of police officers who receive Crisis Intervention Training, developing jail diversion projects and mental health courts, and strongly advocating for adequate mental health services in the corrections and juvenile justice systems.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Minnesota Chapter

The top priority for the National MS Society, MN Chapter is to protect government programs that are vital to serving the needs of people with multiple sclerosis.  The core programs that serve people with MS are:

State Prescription Drug Program

This program is providing an affordable way for people with disabilities who are on Medicare to access needed prescription drugs.  Because the program is so new for people with disabilities, it is difficult to assess the impact it has had for people with disabilities.  Until the federal government develops a Medicare prescription drug plan, state programs will be needed as a stopgap for people with MS and other disabilities.

Medical Assistance

Core MA programs that the Chapter will be protecting will be adequate funding for home care services, prescription drug coverage, respite care and programs for people moving out of nursing facilities and into the community.

Life Insurance

Because MS is generally looked upon as a nonfatal disease, the MN Chapter will introduce legislation requiring life insurance companies to provide such coverage to people with MS.

Paulsen and Company

Dental Care

Work to ensure dental standards in the industry when accepting patients with severe disabilities.

A. Develop standards when working with patients with disabilities

B. Increase MA reimbursement rate

C. Develop a Friendly Dentist network

Telecommunications

Work to promote user-friendly environments for the disabled and elderly in the telecommunications industry.

A. Reduce or eliminate wireless charges on incoming calls

B. Allow unused minutes to roll over from month to month

C. Promote 711, TAP, and other programs or discounts

D. Develop PHONE A PAL—disabled mentors

Remembering With Dignity

The main activities of Remembering With Dignity will be threefold.

  • Seek an apology from the legislature and/or the governor for the treatment of people with disabilities in state institutions.
  • Seek an appropriation for the continued placement of names on graves, currently numbered or unmarked, of the 10,000 people buried in Minnesota state institution cemeteries.
  • Revise the language of current law regarding county funerals to prevent the continued burial of people in unmarked graves.

(Note:  Complete versions of the organizations’ position papers are available on the MSCOD Web site at:  www.disability.state.mn.us

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