Editor's Column - July 2005

If you’re on Medicare, you’ll soon be receiving an application for the new prescription drugs program. I have been asked to encourage all our readers to apply for the Medicare part D program even if you’re not sure if you’re eligible or will be eligible. The sooner you get your application in, the lower your premiums will be if you are eligible. We will follow the program very closely and will publish ongoing articles addressing many of the issues of the new plans. There are still many unknowns about the program and its eligibility requirements. The best strategy is to fill out the application and mail it in. If you are eligible, you will start out with the lowest premiums, and if you’re not eligible the form is pretty simple and will not take much of your time.

The “Russian Connections” article on the front page is a must read! Medtronic sponsored the day of roundtable discussion on disability issues at their headquarters in Fridley. It was a very informative morning with lots of discourse on disability programs in Russia and how our disability programs work in Minnesota and throughout the United States. I’m not sure who learned the most; I do know I learned a lot about life in Russia as a person with a disability. I would have loved to have been able to spend much more time with the delegates. The Russians are doing lots of positive things for people with disabilities, especially in the area of education. And, as we all know, education is a key to getting people with disabilities into the mainstream of life.

Turning to the capitol and the unresolved budget situation, at least we can say our legislators have not yet voted for anything that would be bad for the disability community. It sure is sad that so many people will be put out of work because of the refusal by some in the legislature to compromise in the best interest of all Minnesotans. Many state employees work hard for little compensation and do not get paid if they don’t get their jobs done. Now, state employees will lose income because legislators have not gotten their jobs done and the state will lose income tax from those workers—all this while the legislators retain their incomes. I’m not suggesting our legislators are overpaid, but throughout the special session they have received their per diems. I can not imagine that those per diems will not be paid throughout the negotiations after the state shutdown.

I don’t think we need any more casinos paying low wages and catering to people of middle and low incomes. A state run casino or “racino” will not attract high rollers or high-income individuals that could afford to lose extra disposable income. I think the answer is raising taxes and possibly raising taxes for all of us. I certainly will pay a little more to maintain the good quality of life we have in Minnesota.

I want to thank our readers, advertisers, and the Friends of Access Press for being so supportive of the paper and our staff. I wish Charlie Smith could see the paper today. I think he would be very pleased with the success of his brainchild and how it has evolved in the five years since he left us. I don’t think Charlie, and his mother and father who helped him get the paper started, would have ever thought that Access Press would still be in existence after 15 years—and still fulfilling the mission they laid out all those years ago.

Remember to contact us regarding placing an ad in the August issue to show your support for the 15 years Access Press has been providing information to the disability community.