Here we are in the middle of the legislative session, and as usual, everything seems to be on hold. There have been a few health and human services bills at the state capitol that were steps in the right direction. General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) was funded finally—well it was partially funded; there are still going to be drastic cuts leaving many without any medical coverage. I guess either way, the taxpayers foot the cost. The question is do we pay for stability or do we wait for emergency situations? In Washington, D.C., there have also been some steps in the right direction. Neither the state nor the federal legislation is close to what could be called a “disability victory,” but as always, we must be satisfied with what we’ve been offered. There are still going to be a lot of Minnesotans without decent health care coverage. Personally, it looks to me like next year will be a much more difficult balancing budget session. I’m not going to talk much more about the legislature this month. There are some updates in this issue and will be more in the May and June issues when we know about the results of the session. We’ll know a lot more about which direction we will be going with gubernatorial candidates in a few months too.
Remember winter? Now that the beautiful spring weather is here, it’s hard to remember that the Olympics were just a couple of months ago. Minnesota had, of course, several young athletes, like high-profile skier Lindsey Vonn, in the Winter Olympics. But Para-lympics ski champ, Kelly Underkofler, really makes Minnesotans proud. See her story on the front page, and get to know one of the most determined and positive people around. In other athletic adventures, we have a first-time article about a very brave young woman, scuba diver Autumn Paulson, who’s going to the Cayman Islands to do some scuba diving in the Caribbean Sea. It sounds very cool. Good luck, Autumn! We’ll want to hear more about this adventure. I wouldn’t be that brave, that’s for sure.
Spring means baseball for a lot of people, and this year the real excitement comes from the Twins new stadium—oh, and from their .500 average in the first two preseason games; one loss and one win. We’ll be giving all you baseball fans some updates on Target Field’s accessibility features in future issues. I’ve heard from a couple people that the accessibility was well planned at this new stadium, and not an afterthought, like the Metro-dome’s accessibility features were. I’m not a team sports fan, but I did go to the Metrodome for a couple baseball games and a couple football games and was very disappointed in the view from the accessible seating. On second thought, I only purchased general admission tickets, so that might have been part of the reason for my disappointment.
Randall Bachman is the new executive director of AXIS Healthcare. I’ve only spoken with him a few times, but I wish him well, and with his positive attitude and motivation we hope that AXIS Healthcare care coordination will remain as strong as ever. The Minnesota Department of Human Services, UCare Minnesota and AXIS have all guaranteed us that they will assist all AXIS members to make the informed decisions on care coordination. We’ll keep you posted, as all three departments will be having information sessions to inform AXIS clients. So far, the plan is early this summer, and everyone will still be covered by MnDHO until 2011. So we have some time available to get information. And options, I hope.
It’s hard to believe that next month will be the 20th anniversary of the first edition of Access Press. In the years I’ve been with Access Press I hope that you’ve been able to use the paper as a good resource of factual legislature information, disability news around the world, some good ways of dealing with the difficulties of disability and some humor and (just a few) tears.
We’re planning a 20-year blowout keepsake edition with a comprehensive timeline of the many topics Access Press has covered since 1990. There’ll also be plenty of surprises on how we plan to move into our next decade. I hope each of you and all the organizations that have been involved will help us in this celebration and in the 20 years to come. Please reserve ad space in this most fabulous edition. Don’t be left out! n