For more information contact: Michael Howard 651-296-4169
For decades, Minnesotans have worked to create an inter-connected system of services that help Minnesotans with disabilities live full and independent lives.
Despite the record budget shortfall this year, the Legislature sought to maintain support for these critical services. We passed a strategic health care bill to reduce spending ($540 million) but with 24% less in cuts to disabled and long-term care services than were proposed by the Governor. Unfortunately, the Governor has used unallotment to make nearly the same level of cuts as he originally proposed.
Most of us know and a care about someone who has a physical or mental disability. The progress we have made to support them is eroding. Here is a partial list of the Governorís choices for unallotment.
Children and adults with developmental disabilities
Developmental disability waivers are used by Minnesotans whose needs increase due to conditions like Alzheimerís or diabetes. The Governorís $6 million cut - on top of the cut already passed by the Legislature - will be devastating to small group home providers and reduce the number of Minnesotans with developmental disabilities who can be served in the community.
Senior citizens who are ill
The Governor cut $5.3 million in funding for medically prescribed diets for poor seniors who are ill. This program provides cash supplements to 28,700 Minnesotans with disabilities over the age of 65.
Children and adults with severe disabilities who require personal care
Personal care attendants (PCA) provide individual care to children and adults with severe disabilities who require near 24 hour attention. They are critically important to parents who otherwise would be unable to work. The Governorís unallotment cuts the hours PCAís can work, a $2.15 million cut. This means many children and adults with severe disabilities will see a reduction in vital personal care.
Abused children and at-risk teenagers
$39 million is cut from children and community services grants, used to provide assistance for 350,000 at-risk children and adolescents. They are used primarily for programs to support abused children who are in need of the stateís protection.
Chronically ill uninsured adults
The Governor slashed $381 million for General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), which provides health care to over 30,000 Minnesotans. According to the Governorís own Commissioner of Human Services, these are ďthe poorest of the poor, the sickest of the sick." The Governorís unallotment cuts $15 million more by eliminating coverage 6 weeks sooner.
The Governor has said a 3 to 4% cut is reasonable and manageable in tough economic times. The truth is the disabled community is taking a cut that is nearly twice that amount and the cuts threaten the health and life of those impacted.
He also suggests that Minnesota families are tightening their belts in tough economic times and therefore so should government. But I believe that Minnesota families do not target the most vulnerable family member for deep cuts as the Governor has done. Instead, families share the sacrifice to protect everyone. Asking the disabled and sick to bear the brunt of budget cuts is wrong. It strikes at the soul of Minnesota.
Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL Ė St. Paul, is an Assistant Majority Leader and serves on the Health Care and Human Services Committee
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