The Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, dedicated to improving the lives of persons with disabilities, issued this statement regarding the Governor’s proposed supplemental budget:
Gov. Tim Pawlenty has proposed balancing the state’s $160 projected budget deficit by cutting another $40 million from human services spending. More than $18 million will come from service providers who serve the most vulnerable of Minnesotans.
“Given all that happened last year to Minnesotans with disabilities – increased co-payments for routine medical care, limits in their health care coverage for drugs and medical supplies, higher costs for families of kids with disabilities¼Enough is enough,” said Joel Ulland, co-chair of the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MN-CCD), a coalition of more than 45 provider and advocacy organizations serving Minnesotans of all ages with disabilities. “The disability community and the providers that serve them have done more than our fair share to help balance the state budget.”
Service providers would see their Medical Assistance rates cut by 1.5 percent. These cuts would affect the home health care, rehabilitation, housing with services, day treatment, and nursing home industries. Other providers would also be hit, including those providing services to disabled individuals under the Medical Assistance waivers, including independent living skills programs.
“Many of these providers are having a terrible time retaining workers to serve people with disabilities,” said Jeff Bangsberg, government relations director of the Minnesota Home Care Association. “These cuts will mean fewer dollars for Minnesota businesses to pay decent wages for these critical employees.”
State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized the governor’s proposal. House Republican and Senate DFL leaders have stated a willingness to seek alternatives for plugging the budget hole.
“We thank legislators who have publicly supported our community,” said Ulland. “We’ve worked successfully with both sides of the aisle in detailing the implications of last year’s budget cuts and have made real progress¼particularly in the area of parental fees, co-payments, and the $5,000 annual cap on MinnesotaCare services. We hope this wrong-headed proposal doesn’t slow that progress.”
MN-CCD is trying to eliminate the co-payments instituted last year for the Medical Assistance, GAMC, and MinnesotaCare programs which disproportionately affect those with disabilities. Other priorities for MN-CCD include modifying parental fees paid to access the TEFRA program, which provides community-based services to avoid institutional placement for children with disabilities, and eliminating the $5000 cap on outpatient services and prescription drug coverage for MinnesotaCare enrollees.
MN-CCD members will be available for comment at a Senate hearing at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 9, Rm. 123 Capitol, where Department of Human Services staff will detail the proposed budget cuts before the Senate Human Service and Corrections Budget Division.