Can it be that spring is really here? Only a few days ago I was wondering if this winter would ever end. Who knows? Maybe another snowstorm will leave me stuck at home once again. But I hope by mentioning that, I’ve not jinxed it. Like all Minnesotans this year, I’m truly ready for spring!
We are one step closer to the 5 percent reimbursement rate increase to caregivers and PCA providers. The House of Representatives will be voting on this the second week of April. If you have not talked to your representative about the 5 percent reimbursement, I would encourage you to contact them quickly and explain the need for this increase in compensation. Home- and community-based caregivers have not gotten a wage hike in years, while nursing-home employees got a 5 percent increase just last year. If an independent-living model is really the state’s goal for care, then the home-care agencies and caregivers should have equal compensation. If by the time you read this the 5 percent increase has been passed, send your legislator a thank-you note.
This month we have an exceptionally good History Note. The Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, sponsor of the note, has an extraordinarily informative historical website. Knowing the history of the disability rights movement through all its ups and downs is vital to how we advocate today. Also, it’s just really amazing to read and watch videos of the stories behind how we got to where we are, and to admire the insight of the folks that came before us in the movement. I often wonder if young people will take over as advocates to continue the positive direction of the disability rights movement. I’ll bet, though, that the people you read about in these History Notes and on the Governor’s Council’s website wondered the same thing.
We have articles that examine the pros and cons of state-supported SCI research and pending legislation. Reading the History Note and visiting the Governor’s Council’s website really reinforced my thoughts on the upcoming research legislation. I hope you’ll read it and share your thoughts.
On page 5 we have an article on the Olmstead plan. I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record (if you remember records that could sound broken), but I truly believe this is our future. We have to take some initiative and make comments on this plan, because it will determine how the needs of people with disabilities will be served in the years to come. We have printed details on the upcoming information and comment sessions so that you can plan to make your suggestions and concerns known to the people who are putting this plan together.
Community First Supports and Services is another piece of our future that we have to be involved in. This program could be good for many of us, bad for others; but if we don’t make our voices heard about the problems we see it will be bad for all of us. There are a lot of people at the Department of Human Services who want this to work for us—people who are very compassionate and committed to preserving all the independence the disability community wants. The federal government still has to okay the program plans—even though the state legislature has already assumed in the budget that the federal government will increase its reimbursement rate by six percent. So there is real pressure to get CFSS going and the stat receiving the money it’s already budgeted.
There are some interesting new things happening at the Mixed Blood Theater. If you haven’t checked it out lately, you really should. I hope you all recall the theater’s “Radical Hospitality,” which offers free admission and, if you live in the city boundaries, a free taxi ride to the theater and back home. They provide an incredible range of accessibility features. It’s an arts organization that has made extraordinary efforts to be inclusive to everyone. Mixed Blood produces new plays all the time; many stories include a disability angle that’s authentic and well portrayed.
This month we are running our quarterly Access Press’s Directory of Organizations. If you have any suggestions on how we could make it better and more useful to you, please contact us at Access Press with your ideas and comments.
Have a good month and I hope you’ll take my suggestions to call a legislator, check out the Governor’s Council website and have a great time at the theater.