Editor's Column - October 2009

tim-aug03Our sixth annual Charlie Smith awards are just around the corner, on Friday, Nov. 6. We hope to see everyone who has attended in the past, and we invite those who haven’t been a part of “one of the best evenings of the year” to join us. The gathering will be held at a new location, the Minneapolis Airport Marriott just east of the Mall of America. It’s got great accessibility and transportation options. Also, for the first time, we will be having a silent auction with many neat items to bid on.

This year’s Charlie Smith Award winner is, like all the past winners, a real leader in our community. Anne Henry, over the years, has been a very strong and effective supporter of disability causes. Anne is the first award recipient who doesn’t have a disability, yet she is as strong a sup-porter of our needs as anyone can be. I know she will continue the struggle along side of all of us, carrying the disability torch. The board of directors had an impressive group of candidates this year (and several of them were highlighted in last month’s issue). I hope that if the person you nominated wasn’t chosen this year, you will nominate her or him again next year, because leadership is not a one-year thing! Watch for updates on the event. After the celebration, watch for news and highlights on our great new interactive Web site at www.access press.org.

Advocating Change Together (ACT) celebrated their 30th anniversary on Oct. 1, with a boat cruise party on the Mississippi River. We are proud of all the individuals who have been leading ACT and advocating change together for all these years, especially Mary Kay Kennedy, Rick Cárdenas and Kathy Sanders, who have filled leadership and management roles for many of the 30 years. I know that they give thanks, and all the credit for success, to the many people who work with ACT, and to ACT members, for their dedication to one another and to their disability community. I wouldn’t be the first to say that ACT is a real grassroots, member-driven organization; there is no question about that. This group has traveled the globe sharing their message of equality and true justice for all. I wish them 300 more years of empowering people.

UCare explains in this issue the upcoming changes to UCare Complete and the Minnesota Disability Health Options (MnDHO) program and how the changes will affect Axis care clients. For now it looks like most everything will remain as is. In 2010 UCare Complete will not be covering Medicare. I’m not really sure what ultimately that will mean to individual Axis care members other than having to make a decision on prescription drug coverage, Medicare Part D, which alone may not be a big deal. But there may be some drug co-pays again and some drugs not covered-which could be a big deal to some of us. We’ll keep everyone informed; not just because I’m on the plan, but because I’m a big fan of the concept of effective coordinated care and independent choice. I think, or hope, that Axis is a plan that is leading the way for the future. I truly hope that it will remain a strong, viably and independent option for Minnesotans with disabilities. (See page 4.)

Speaking about independent choice and options, the Disability Law Center is working with several other groups to stop the involuntary uses of electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT) by doctors and institutions in Minnesota unless they have the individual’s permission or a specifically written court order. This treatment is probably very effective for some, but it seems to me that performing this kind of invasive treatment against a person’s will is barbaric and completely against what all of us are struggling to achieve; individual self-determination.

We are in the beginning stages of cold and flu season. The Minnesota Department of Health is very concerned about the potential for a very serious outbreak of the H1N1 flu. We all have to take all of the recommended precautions; get your flu shots, both seasonal and the H1N1, stay out of crowds, maintain good nutrition and consult your doctor, care coordinator or visiting nurse at the first sign of flu. Don’t panic, but keep people abreast of your health status-which I hope is good!