In a recent editorial for Access Press, a Minnesota disability news outlet, Steve Larson, senior public policy director for The Arc Minnesota commended state leaders for their work to reverse a number of funding cuts to Minnesota Health and Human Services (HHS).
These reversals delayed cuts to the wages of personal care attendants and disability service providers until the next legislative session and reduced the cut to community services for 2,600 Minnesotans with disabilities by half. ” Disability advocates will need to fight again next session to make these reversals permanent,” says Larson.
The issues of funding to key Health and Human Services sectors were first highlighted by Governor Dayton in his 2012-2013 supplemental budget proposal, and were ultimately addressed with his signing of the HHS omnibus budget bill, a bipartisan effort which restored roughly $18 million in funding lost during the 2011 budget compromise. This new spending was offset by savings to the state from a 1 percent cap on health plan profits negotiated by the Dayton Administration which resulted in the return of $73 million to state and federal taxpayers .
In addition to the budget bill, the Minnesota Department of Human Services notes other victories for Minnesotans with disabilities during the 2012 legislative session, including: modification of eligibility for the Medical Assistance for Employed People with Disabilities program so that individuals can enroll at any age and retain assets after age 65, and approval of a new study from the DHS and other state agencies into housing with support options for children with autism.
In looking to the future of improving care for Minnesotans with disabilities, Larson stressed the need for reforms to go hand-in-hand with increased funding, stating: “Advocates must also press for reforms in disability supports so we not only create better lives but get a better value for our public dollars.”
Read the full text of Larson’s editorial here.