Editor’s Column – March 2011

Will the real Access Press please stand up? As you can see we’ve made some major design changes that we […]

Will the real Access Press please stand up? As you can see we’ve made some major design changes that we really hope you’ll like. We’ve tried to make the paper easier to read and a little more, as they say, 21st-century. I hope you’ll recognize the symbolism in the four boxes—all four are pretty much the same, except for one. It doesn’t need fixing, it’s just not the same (and, as somebody said, it’s a diamond, not a square). A special thanks to Kirsten Wedes. Kirsten was just the person we needed, with a truly interesting concept of differences. She understood that differences don’t always needing correcting. Thanks, too, to all the others who helped Access Press through this challenging process. Let us know what you think.

I was hoping, with a forecasted budget deficit of about $1 billion less than expected, that Gov. Mark Dayton would restore more of the previous years cuts to community-based services. I shouldn’t blame the governor, though; he’s only one piece of the budget puzzle.

I know personally that some of the cuts are creating administrative mistakes. Just recently, on a Friday afternoon (bad-news letters always come on Friday and you have to wait out the weekend), I got a letter from the state denying all my personal care attendant (PCA) services. Talk about raising your blood pressure. I didn’t need an ER visit, but boy oh boy, was it a long weekend. Each night I woke at 2 a.m., thinking what if it’s not a mistake? Which respiratory care unit will I choose? Will I get a choice? Which facility is most conveniently located to the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the capitol, where I’ll be spending all my extra time lobbing for my needs? First, I’ll have to get an appeal started Monday morning. Should I just go and be admitted to the hospital now? What would I tell the ER was wrong with me? That I’m panicked and I just want to surrender now and get the terror over with?

At 8:30 on Monday morning, I started calling the help desk, but much to my dismay I kept getting the recording: “We are experiencing a high call volume, call back at later date.” Click. I redialed again and again, always receiving the same message. Thanks to the experience of my PCA agency and their access to the help desk, we found out it was probably “just a mistake.” This kind of mistake should be unacceptable and preventable, but I think state agency workers are having their own anxieties and problems lately. Unfortunately, this mistake not only caused me undue stress but caused DHS to do my paperwork twice. I can only imagine what the cost of an appeal would have been. However, I truly believe that anyone who gets a letter like this or has hours decreased should appeal and let the department explain how you can stay safe and remain independent with a reduction in services. Ask them to identify what the cost savings are, after all the appeals and extra hospitalizations for lack of proper care.

There seem to be too many forces lately in society (look to Madison, for instance) suggesting that we should just be good children and do what were told—especially if we’re receiving benefits from the state. But people like me (and you?) must keep reminding ourselves and others that we are of benefit to the state, and to our families and friends. And we must appeal and advocate for our rights to live free and self-directed lives. Isn’t that the American ethic? Isn’t that our most basic human right? Thought so. Maybe it’s because we’re diamonds that we just cut a little harder than your regular square

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