Editor's Column - February 2009

timbenjamincolorWell, there’s only one thing to talk about lately, and that’s the economy. There’s not much positive to say about either the Minnesota state budget or the United States federal budget. We have some very difficult times ahead and some very hard decisions to be made by our state and federal officials that will affect all of us. I’ve talked a lot before about participating in the legislative process. More than ever, we need to talk to our legislators and explain to them the importance of public programs in our lives. Many of the disability organizations will be having rallies at the capitol and can help you weave your way through the maze to get in to your senator and house representative. The organizations can suggest how to talk to legislators most persuasively, and give you talking points as well, if you want them.

But beyond talking, I think we have to participate in finding ways to make our care and support as cost-effective as possible. It looks as though there’s going to be some serious cuts, not only to the personal care attendant program, but also in durable medical supplies and to many others services in the Health and Human Services budget. I’m asking myself a lot of questions about whether I can be more careful of the number of products I use at home that are paid for by state and federal funds. And although I know that most of us have been careful consumers for years, now is the time to ask where there are inefficiencies or where expenses are higher than they need to be. Like it or not, we will all have to consider new cost-cutting efforts in our homes. But even while we do that, the top consideration is maintaining our health, and staying safe. Staying healthy is the most cost-effective thing we can do. Let’s all concentrate on staying out of the hospital and be proactive about our health care.

We have to communicate a complicated message: that we will work with public agencies and healthcare providers to save costs, but at the same time, we have to make our health and safety the top priority. When you write or visit your legislators, tell them about your plans for cutting costs and maintaining health. Tell them the importance of public programs in your life; they need to hear it when they are considering cutting or eliminating these services. If you’re willing, offer your assistance in helping them find ways to save the programs and services. For instance, tell them you’d be willing to join a committee to examine and hopefully save some of the programs. I think the only way we will save many programs that are vital in our lives is by getting involved. I hope you’ll join me and so many others in getting active now. And as you do, remember to stay positive, talk to decision-makers with respect, don’t get wrapped up in solving their other budget problems. Stay focused on your situation.

Just one example, but a big one, of the changes to come, can be seen in the current focus on direct care services. Be sure to read the articles in this issue about the personal assistant program audit, and the legislative update. Much of this information is critically important and changing continually. So, consider what’s here at least one-week old, and use it as background. Then call the organization that you most identify with and ask them what you can do to help.

Access Press has been chosen to be one of the participants in the Sierra Bravo’s Overnight Website Challenge, www.f1webchallenge.com, which means that we will have 10 professional web designers build us a new Web site in 24 hours, February 28 to March 1. It’s the second time that this event has taken place. Last year 10 nonprofits had some pretty great Web sites designed. We are all very excited. While we wait for our makeover, Access Press also has a presence on Facebook. We encourage you to sign in (or sign up), and become an Access Press fan! Head over to, www.facebook.com/pages/Access-Press/41442221855 and “Fan” us! And while it’s a great place for social networking, news and pictures there are opportunities to donate to Access Press on that page as well.

Our pregnancy column will be ending next month. Yup. It’s that time. Things ran their natural course! Join us in congratulating Mai Thor and her partner Charles McIntosh for bringing into the world Matthew Nom Loob McIntosh, at 9:53 a.m. January 28, 2009.

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He is one handsome young man!