The incidence of autism has increased dramatically in recent years. The CDC now estimates that 1 in 68 children have autism. There are approximately 17,000 children in Minnesota with autism.
While the autism community has not always been united about how to approach this challenge, it is generally accepted that early diagnosis and intervention is effective in improving functioning and should be available to all affected children.
In 2013 the legislature passed the governor’s autism bill which expanded access to Medical Assistance payments for autism treatment. Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, the implementation stalled, and providers were not able to take advantage of the funding. Last year, a representative group of providers, advocates, and DHS staff worked together to make improvements that would allow for the accessing of the benefit. What emerged was a consensus bill that all supported.
A key feature of this consensus bill is giving the commissioner of DHS the authority to waive certain requirements based on the workforce shortage so that providers can actually access the benefit.
This legislative session HF 919 and SF562 were drafted to implement the Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI). After passing through senate and house committees the bill is now on the floor of each body. Advocates are optimistic that it will pass and the governor will sign into law. However, as with all things with the legislature, nothing is certain. We remain hopeful.
Another bill that impacts families with children with autism, as well as other disabilities, would lower the TEFRA fees and provide financial relief for parents who have to use this mechanism to help fund treatment. Parents and advocates have lobbied hard with compelling stories for this relief. As of this writing the effort is still alive in both houses, but, as stated, nothing can be taken for granted.
From my perspective we have made great progress in building a coalition in the autism community. While I doubt there will ever be complete consensus, there is significant agreement among everyone that we can and must do a better job of helping families access the treatments and supports their children deserve.
Chairperson, Autism Recovery Foundation
Chairperson, Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
This speech is from Tuesday at the Capitol, co-hosted by Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities at the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living
on Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Sheryl, thank you for your kind introduction. Please allow me the opportunity to thank members of the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities in allowing Metropolitan Center for Independent Living to be a co-host for the Tuesday at the Capitol event. All of us at Metropolitan Center for Independent Living are very happy to be a co-host for today. We have a wonderful agenda planned for today.
The Mission of Metropolitan Center for Independent Living, is; “To assist people with disabilities to fulfill their desire to lead productive and self-determined lives.” Our mission, in so many estimable ways, is a prism of light of that great shinning realization made by the founders of our democracy, from our Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th 1776.
And I quote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Unquote.
These certain unalienable Rights, give rise to the self-determination of all people – which profoundly is at the heart of Metropolitan Center for Independent Living in our quest to assist people with disabilities to fulfill their desire to lead productive and self-determined lives.
These time honored immutable truths, these certain unalienable Rights, and this principle of self-determination, of independent living, are the essence of who we are as a Democracy, as Minnesotans, and as Americans. Our journey as a Nation has aspired, through much toil, adversity and yet discovery, that these truths belong to all, and for all. These truths have illuminated our constitution, to landmark laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Reform Act, the Work Innovation and Opportunity Act and shed light for Civil Rights, Human Rights, Affirmative Action and the brightest of recognition that the most noble of civic values of who we are as a society is to advance the ability of people to care for one another. We are compelled, in our era, of our generation, to ask: What can we do on behalf of all, and for all in advancing a civil society?
Our journey as Minnesotans has led to new realizations such as the commitment we have to one another via Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan. We applaud the Vision Statement of the February 2017 edition of The Olmstead Plan on page 42, which all Minnesotans benefit from:
“We will provide services to people with disabilities in a way that helps them achieve their life goals. Services will be appropriate to individual needs, will reflect individual life choices, and will enable people with disabilities to conduct their activities in the most integrated setting – one that allows people with disabilities to interact with nondisabled persons to the fullest extent possible.”
In this light, we also acknowledge the citizenry for advancing public policy for the greater good and for the common good. Please allow me to ask Jeff Bangsberg to speak on an effort that addresses complex care for people with disabilities, please welcome Jeff Bangsberg! (Jeff’s legislation SF393/HF481)
Darrell Paulsen and Nikki Villavicencio have recognized that parents with disabilities are more likely to have their children removed from them, and for no reason at all, and they are working on public policies that help support families, please welcome Darrell and Nikki to speak on their work! Darrell & Nikki’s legislation SF846/HF898 & MACIL bill SF248/HF369]
Metropolitan Center of Independent Living is among eight Centers of Independent Living in Minnesota. Our Centers are what is known as a statutory non-profit organization in that in order for the Center to have been created in 1981, concerned citizens along with the State of Minnesota would have had to ask the Federal government for the creation of such a Center. Minnesota State Statute 268.A.11 provides for Centers of Independent Living to operate in Minnesota.
Yet there is more to how our centers operate. Let me explain. We have in Minnesota the Minnesota Statewide Independent Living Council also known as MNSILC. The Board of Trustees for MNSILC are appointed by Minnesota’s Governor. Both the Centers of Independent Living and the Statewide Independent Living Councils had originated from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, but now both the Centers and Statewide Independent Living Council nation-wide are now under the rules and regulations of the 2014 Work Innovation and Opportunity Act. Together, MNSILC and the eight Centers of Independent Living in Minnesota bring an engaged framework to advance self-determination and independent living for people with disabilities throughout Minnesota.
Thank you for allowing us to spend time with you today as co-host of Tuesday at the Capitol. On behalf of the Board of Directors, employees, the consumers we assist and our volunteers, we thank you! Let me also thank you for your support and all you do in bringing illumination to all, and for all!
Jesse Bethke Gomez, MMA
Executive Director, Metropolitan Center for Independent Living
The Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MNCCD) is a broad based coalition
of advocacy and provider organizations working to change public policy to improve the lives of people with disabilities through building awareness, providing education, and engaging the community.