Editor's Column - December 2018

Winter has arrived, snow is on the ground, and the holidays are just around the corner with lots of celebrating after the anxiety-filled shopping. If you’re an online shopper and shop on Amazon, make sure you use Amazon Smile. You can easily get Amazon to donate to Access Press by shopping at Smile.Amazon.com. Just register Access Press as your preferred charity, and then buy! No extra cost or effort for you, and you get full access to Amazon!

Lots going on with the home care shortage, and from different angles. It would be good for all if more of the support organizations for seniors would work with the disability community on this workforce shortage. It seems that many of our legislators understand the employment crisis but don’t know where to get the funding. Just like the legislators, I don’t want to think about raising taxes or cutting programs but what other options are there? Are there som designated funds that could tap into? Are there funds that could be dedicated for supporting home care, like the extra tax money earned from Sunday liquor sales or, if they legalize recreational marijuana, a portion of that tax money? I think this is what we vote for our legislators to do: find the money that’s needed to support community services. It’s their job, and it is the moral and ethical thing to do.

There is a structural problem in the current way that funds are provided. The Disability Waiver Rate System, which sets the reimbursement rate that the day-training and habilitation providers receive, is out of balance. It provides disincentives for provider businesses.  For example, as DHS seeks to increase the number of training services available to fulfill Olmstead Act requirements, they are having a difficult time because of the Legislature’s 7% cut to provider compensation. Over the next couple of years the state is planning more changes, but if PCAs—the essence of many of the disability employment services—aren’t sufficiently available, advancements will get stalled.

There are many tough decisions to be made, and they may push against the conventional operating procedures of bureaucracies, but it’s time to be equitable and fulfill these basic human needs and dignity to allow people to live independently wherever they want. I hope legislators from both parties remember that this isn’t some kind of radical socialist ideal. It was a modern Republican president who took the most meaningful action in advancing this goal. George Herbert Walker Bush, who died on November 30 at the age of 94 years, held the distinction of being the longest-lived president in American history. But for our communities of disabled and aged people, he held a much greater distinction. As the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993, George H.W. Bush made an immense contribution to people with disabilities and to the country as a whole by supporting and signing the Americans with Disabilities Act. I’d recommend that both legislators and activists reread the text of the speech he gave right before signing the ADA on July 26, 1990. Here’s an excerpt:

“This act is powerful in its simplicity. It will ensure that people with disabilities are given the basic guarantees for which they have worked so long and so hard: independence, freedom of choice, control of their lives, the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the rich mosaic of the American mainstream. Legally, it will provide our disabled community with a powerful expansion of protections and then basic civil rights. It will guarantee fair and just access to the fruits of American life which we all must be able to enjoy. Together, we must remove the physical barriers we have created and the social barriers that we have accepted. For ours will never be a
truly prosperous nation until all within it prosper.”

Fair and just access to the fruits of American life which we all must be able to enjoy….Ours will never be a truly prosperous nation until all within it prosper. We’re still working on fulfilling the vision he laid out in those words. Let’s not give up on them.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with plenty of family and friends. I will be heading down to my family in Arizona for the holidays so I probably won’t have a white Christmas. But something tells me I’ll still get to see my share of white stuff in the new year. Best holiday greetings to all!

 

 

 

 

 

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