I’m writing this on a perfect summer morning, but there haven’t been too many of them so far this year. It’s been a long, hot summer and it’s only July. Maybe the weather seems worse because the news in healthcare legislation has also been so rough this summer.
We’ve had some difficult cuts in services and very little clear information. It’s been hard to know what is really going on. One thing that is clear is that the 7 percent cut in reimbursement rates for Social Service was not stopped by the courts. As you’ll read in other articles in this issue, the state hearing didn’t yield any injunctions that would stop the cut.
For people who get 12 hours or more of PCA care per month, the legislation provided a 5 percent increase. But there is just a lot of confusion with how it will all play out for all who depend on Minnesota medical assistance for the cares.
Meanwhile, life goes on and we all have to get through each day and make plans as we can. We still have the ability to find new caregivers, new jobs, new friends—and new housing. Because I’m moving this month, I’ve been noticing how many people make housing changes in the summer. After 15 years in the same house, I’ve also just become more aware of what a housing shortage there is the Twin Cities, and how that drives up rents and makes for even less accessible and affordable housing.
It feels like everything is catching up with us and we are having to pay the piper for our lack of progressive movement over the last 10 years. We have known about, and added to, shortages in healthcare financing and building policy and social supports for at least the last 10 years. Because it has been so hard to make incremental changes, and the powers that be have done so little, it starts to become easier to see why people on the right and the left seems to think we need a whole new system.
No matter what, we can’t give up. We have to help one another when we can. We have to adapt and keep building a strong community that we can depend on. And each one of us needs to be both a leader and a follower. Whether we recognize it or not, we, as people with disabilities, are good leaders. The way we have to work to manage our lives, and to coordinate care and services, makes us effective leaders. As followers, we need to be careful in choosing the right people to lead, and we have to be vocal in telling them what we really want and need.
We also have good leaders in our friends and families and other allies. We have to talk to our allies and tell them the real story, especially the ones who aren’t involved already. I know this is preaching to the choir, but we must, absolutely must, let our politicians know that there’s trouble in River City. There’s trouble in every U.S. city and something has to be done.
I’m sure you’ve heard from your parents that it could be worse. Many older people have lived through worse times, and certainly in other parts of the world things are currently much worse. Well, now you’re hearing it from me, too. I had to spend some time in the hospital this month, and that can always get a person feeling sorry for themselves. Then recently I learned that 65 million people around the world do not have wheelchairs but need them desperately. It’s true that we face not being able to get out of bed because we don’t have caregivers. But those 65 million can’t get out of bed because they don’t have wheelchairs to get into. Which would you choose?
Let’s all choose to make a world where people can make the most of their lives. That’s what will make for the best and most productive society. If some people need some more kickstart supports than others, let’s make sure they get them. How else are we going to build a better world?