Editor's Column - May 2011

The big news at our state capitol is that our legislators are flinging red herrings like there’s no tomorrow. By turning their attention to single-sex marriage and stadiums, they are really trying to keep out of the mainstream news the massive cuts that will be devastating to many Minnesotans. The budgets they are proposing now will negatively affect every Minnesotan, but disproportionately hurt people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. There has always been a hierarchy in our society and these two groups are always on the bottom, along with all of us who need government supports to maintain independence.

In one of our commentaries, on page 4 we explain some of the effects and side-effects of these legislative measures. Here’s another example that’s been on my mind. Let’s say that the editor of Access Press loses his personal care assistance and can’t maintain a working schedule. He would then not be eligible for Medical Assistance for Employed People with Disabilities (MA-EPD), which would mean his spouse’s income would be taken into consideration for him to be eligible for medical assistance for all his other medical needs. She would be required to spend down to the poverty-level income required for medical assistance eligibility. Without her income, or with her income spent entirely on his medical needs, they would not be able to afford their mortgage so they’d lose their house. There is no accessible housing available on short notice so where would they live? As she needs to spend her time caring for the former editor’s medical care and their housing, she would probably lose her job. In this scenario, two productive people have become two more individuals in need of assistance. And many more jobs might be lost. There might be others willing to take the editor’s job, but maybe because others are affected like the editor, Access Press goes out of business. Now two more employees would lose their wages, and the desktop publisher, the printer, the distributor, the accountant, the US mail, the office rent, the phone company—well, they’re all affected, as about $10,000 a month is taken out of circulation in the Twin Cities.

Many legislators believe that raising income taxes for the rich would be a “job killer.” I guess they need to explain this a little better for me to understand how not raising new revenue (taxes) to pay for the supports that allow people to maintain independence is a good thing for our communities. Oh, by the way, those who are familiar with trying to follow the rules know that one way out of that scenario I just described is for the editor and his wife to divorce in order to save her income, but that’s against what our legislators stand for also: strong heterosexual families.

I’ve been closely watching what our National ADAPT group is doing in Washington DC. On May 3, more than 100 people got arrested for refusing to leave Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) office. The very next day, ADAPT members refused to leave the offices of Rep. Ryan and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R”MN) until they and a couple other legislators publicly withdraw their support for the Medicaid budget cuts and the Medicaid state block grant. The group has decided to adopt the slogan “FREE OUR PEOPLE” and to do whatever nonviolent action is required to get the commitment of these representatives to pull their supports. An ADAPT statement to the press said: “It is unacceptable for our government to treat the 60 million Americans who rely on Medicaid like garbage!”

As in Washington, our Minnesota legislators need to explain these policies a little better to me and many of my friends; we do not quite understand how these cuts will save our jobs. Perhaps state Rep. Jim Abeler and Sen. David Hann would like to meet with us and explain how this legislation will save jobs and preserve our independence and productivity. We simply do not understand.

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  1. The only way the legislators are going to understand the problems we face is if they or one of their loved ones faced our situations.

    I’m living in an assistetd living facillity. I need more personal help, but not enough to qualify for MA which would allow me to be on an Elderly Waiver. Both programs are in real trouble. I have in been contact with my legislators who support us in this facility. I’ve also written to Gov. Dayton.

    In the ’70’s, I lobbyied on behalf of people with disabilities and the Elderly. Now, I fit into both catagories and I fear for my future.

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