The 2001 legislative session has begun. Our Governor gave his State of the State address on January 4th. The first week of the session was largely taken up by members listening to the Governor and getting their new committee assignments.
It looks like another year in which the disability community will be asking the legislature and Governor to support a host of important and, in some cases, costly programs to benefit people with disabilities in Minnesota. Every year at this time I feel slighted by the Governor and the leadership of the legislature. Disability issues are never mentioned.
The disability community in Minnesota is the fastest growing minority in the state. The issues facing us will probably face everyone eventually. Yet, our elected officials need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into acknowledging the importance of these issues.
We do have a number of enlightened legislators, and these are the ones who carry our legislation. Once we explain the problem and they admit that there needs to be a change. You each have that power. If each of you contact your legislator and explain the issues important to you, they may become one of the enlightened ones.
Senator Wellstone is at it again, introducing a bill that makes common sense. In 1994, when Bill Clinton introduced single-payer health care, the Republican establishment, in alliance with the insurance industry, mounted a massive propaganda campaign that succeeded in convincing many Americans that a single-payer system could never work in this country.
But Senator Wellstone has found a unique approach: let the states do it. Minnesota already has MinnesotaCare, which would be a perfect first step toward meeting the requirement of universal care set forth in Senator Wellstone’s bill. He will be re-introducing his bill in the coming months; be sure to let your legislators know what you think.
On page 9 you will find an article explaining some myths and realities about the Canadian health care system. I thought this might be of interest to many of you, since it seems we are still being told what a bad system this is and how we can’t try it in this country.
Last month I said I had contracted a serious illness, and the rumors have been flying in the disability community. To clear things up, let me say that I have esophageal cancer. I started chemotherapy the day after Thanksgiving. My capable oncologist has informed me that I will be undergoing various treatments for the next 4-5 months, after which I will expect a full recovery.
Again, I would like to thank everyone for their support and positive energy.