At the October MNCCD Health and Wellness Conference Mercarik Assistive Technologies will be presenting an overview of many of the different assistive technologies available as well as giving an opportunity to play with a few of the devices to help get a better understanding. Though this session will be brief and not all areas will be addressed it will discuss commonly used solutions and some not often utilized.
In the meantime, I thought it might be a helpful to see what the Minnesota Olmstead plan has to say about assistive technology.
The Following is an unedited passage from Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan-
What this topic means
This topic is about people of all ages, all disabilities, and all settings having access to assistive and other technologies that will improve their quality of life and support them, especially in integrated settings.
The timely access to assistive and other technologies will result in progress on measurable goals found elsewhere in the Olmstead Plan. It is expected that the results can be measured in improved quality of life and increased movement from segregated settings to integrated settings.
It is also about building program capacity, leveraging resources and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of assistive technology services through coordination and collaboration among state agencies.
Definition of assistive technology
Assistive technology is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. This definition does not include a medical device that is
surgically implanted, or the replacement of such a device.”
Assistive technology service is any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. This includes:
o The evaluation of the needs of an individual with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the individual in the individual’s customary environments;
o Purchasing, leasing or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by individuals with disabilities;
o Selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;
o Coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
o Training or technical assistance for individuals with a disability or, if appropriate, that individual’s family; and
o Training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education or rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of that individual.
Matthew Hansen ATP, EAS
Many individuals with disabilities rely on government programs to help them with their medical needs. Often these programs have limits on what kinds of assets a program participant can own. This can make it challenging for family and friends to care for the disabled person.
One tool that is available is a special type of trust that can hold assets without affecting a person’s medical benefits. These trusts come in two types.
Special Needs Trust
A Special Needs Trust holds assets belonging to an individual who is enrolled in a public benefits program. By placing their assets in trust, the enrollee can sometimes prevent these assets from being counted by the government program. This allows them to use their assets to their benefit instead of losing them to pay for care.
Supplemental Needs Trust
A Supplemental Needs Trust also holds assets on behalf of a disabled individual. Supplemental Needs Trusts differ from Special Needs Trusts. A Supplemental Needs Trust holds assets that originally belong to a 3rd party (like a parent or relative) and allow those assets to be used for the disabled person’s benefit.
Pluto Legal, PLLC operates differently than most firms. Our office and staff are located in Tyler, Minnesota, while our attorneys currently live in Olivia and St. Louis Park. The attorneys at Pluto Legal will make house calls throughout Minnesota. So, rather than asking you to travel and bring all of your information to our office, we meet with you in the comfort and privacy of your own home or other convenient location.
We offer a no charge consultation to review your situation and base our recommendation on only what you need. We will never recommend services to you that are unnecessary.
We offer many workshops for community education and for Continuing Education Credits. Please contact Pluto Legal for more information Toll Free 1-866-457-3131, firstname.lastname@example.org 100 E. Hwy. 14, Tyler, MN 56178 or check out our website, www.plutolegal.com.
Health and wellbeing are dependent on many factors, including genetics, environment, and behavior. While some things are outside of our immediate control, other things – like learned behaviors – make a huge difference in how we feel. This cuts both ways, of course… less-skillful behaviors contribute to feelings of
dis-ease, while more-skillful behaviors contribute to feelings of wellbeing. Wellbeing is a feeling that signals alignment between our values, beliefs and behaviors. It is a feeling that communicates, “I am on the right track” and “Keep doing more of this because it is good for me.”
Compassionate communications is a tool to increase this critical alignment, along with feelings of wellbeing. When we identify and share feelings and needs, as well as listen to others through healthy conversations, we build trust, are able to form close relationships and feel valued and understood.
In the Compassionate Communication as Self-Care breakout session, we will expand our understanding of universal needs and experience the feelings associated with needs when they are met and unmet. We’ll talk about what is happening in our brains when we learn how to skillfully express our needs. Finally, we’ll have fun practicing this effective tool.
Compassionate communications is a wellbeing tool that can be learned and used by everyone, including caregivers and clients, parents and children, and nurses and patients. As we increase our skill, we increase our own health and the health of our organizations.
Ricka Robb Kohnstamm, ALIGN Whole Health Coaching, creates safe space for clients to untangle complex issues that contribute to feelings of dis-ease of mind, body or spirit. Through her soft, supportive approach, her clients find the courage within themselves to embrace a meaningful, always evolving life.
Ricka will be a Presenter at our October Health and Wellness Conference.
Life before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was not the good old days if you had a disability. I was injured in a farming accident when I was about two years old and grew up with a spinal cord injury. I couldn’t wait to move to the big city when I was a teenager, and I stayed with friends in Minneapolis at every opportunity. Life in the 70’s and 80’s was difficult if you were an active wheelchair user. Public transportation was not accessible, buildings entrances were generally not accessible, restrooms were not accessible and curb-cuts were few and far between. Life back then was so dramatically different from today that it’s difficult trying to compare the two worlds.
If you were a wheelchair user and wanted to take a public bus, you had two choices; either talk someone into pulling you up the steps of the bus while in your chair, or get out of your chair (if able) rump it up the steps and ask a total stranger to fold up your wheelchair and carry it up the steps of the bus.
Getting into and out of buildings was an ongoing fight where I and others with disabilities had to constantly ask for assistance. Sometimes people would simply stare and keep walking, other times people were more than happy to help. But the reality was, one had to ask for help on a daily basis just to negotiate the stores, businesses and government buildings in their community.
Accessible, functional restrooms did not exist. When I did find that rare restroom that I could get into – the wheelchair accessible stall was 36” wide and without enough wheelchair space in front of the toilet to close the stall door. So, if you have to live in an inaccessible world without accessible restrooms, you learn to adapt, be creative and do what needs to be done. Curb cuts pretty much didn’t exist outside of a few intersections in downtown Minneapolis, so I and others learned where the alley entrances were and tried to avoid getting hit by vehicles.
Life is different today, the country is far more accessible, and the ADA has had a very positive impact! Not that we don’t have much to do yet and miles to go – but we are making measurable progress.
As of late, there has been an increase in efforts to weaken the ADA. We must fight those efforts and unite as a community to reaffirm our rights! Please join us on July 26th for a Disability Rights March and Rally. We are meeting at the Minnesota History Center at 1:00 pm to march down John Ireland Blvd to the Capitol. Once at the Capitol we will have a rally in the Rotunda with speakers and entertainment. Come and join us as we celebrate the most important disability rights legislation in our Nation’s history!
Margot Imdieke Cross, Accessibility Specialist
Minnesota Council on Disability
Medicaid, which is Medical Assistance or MA in Minnesota, is a household term for many people with disabilities and their families. Nationally, over 10 Million people with disabilities utilize Medicaid to help them be independent and stay in the community.
Proposals at the Federal level would cut Medicaid by 25% in the first 10 years, and 33% within 20 years. There is simply no way to make this level of reduction without harming people with disabilities’ ability to live in the community.
Medicaid provides far beyond hospital care and doctor visits. Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) is actually optional under Medicaid for states. When steep reductions to Medicaid are made at the Federal level, states will be required to make tough decisions about rate reductions to services, changing eligibility, or limiting services that are provided. HCBS is one of the largest areas of spending in Medical Assistance, and due to the optional nature of it, will be very vulnerable when cuts are made.
In Minnesota, Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken have been vocal opponents of reductions to Medicaid through the current proposals in Congress. There are some key states that you can reach out to where the Senators are on the fence. Please contact your networks and ask them to reach their U.S. Senators and tell them to vote NO and protect Medicaid.
You can find the tools you need, including the key states, what to say and the number to call at www.thisismedicaid.org. Follow @ThisIsMedicaid on twitter and ‘This Is Medicaid’ on Facebook to easily access resources and connect to others who want to protect Medicaid.
Watch this video and share it with your networks:
By: Susie Emmert Schatz, MSW LGSW
Sr. Director of Advocacy, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
MNCCD Board Member
Every parent reacts differently when a child is born with, or develops, a complex medical condition. Common reactions and emotions might include disbelief, shock, confusion, denial or worry—and all of these emotions can change based upon the given day or situation. It’s important for parents to know that however you’re feeling, it’s OK. Many parents find that feelings of distress often fade in time, giving way to acceptance, validation, relief and a sense of belonging.
Whatever your family’s circumstance, one thing’s for certain: You and your child are not alone. Connecting with other families can offer comfort, hope and the chance to share your questions. Support networks can be invaluable forums to seek out answers and, if needed, obtain further understanding of your child’s condition.
Ultimately, it’s important—for you and your child—to stay connected. Surround yourself and your child with supportive family, friends and professionals. Talk with loved ones and other parents. Listen, learn and share. We all benefit when we have supportive relationships with one another.
Richard DiPrima, PsyD, LP, is a neuropsychologist at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
The Minnesota State Legislature finally adjourned in the wee hours of Friday, May 26th. They may or may not return to re-work some bills, but more about that in a bit.
Long-time Capitol hands say that "no two sessions are the same." This session was certainly the case, and may be the oddest I have ever witnessed. In the closing days of the regular legislative session, which was due to adjourn at midnight on Monday, May 22nd, a budget deal between Governor Dayton and legislative leaders did not seem close at hand. Most Capitol observers anticipated no budget and the need for a special session.
But just 30 minutes before midnight, on the May 22nd deadline, the Governor and legislative leaders emerged from his office announcing they had struck a deal. All the caucus leaders and the Governor signed a one page agreement on the budget, tax, and bonding bills. The Governor called a special session for 12:01AM Tuesday May 23rd so legislators could iron out some of the remaining bills like HHS. They just kept on going and most people at the Capitol thought they would be done by late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. But they were not…
It took three and a half more days for the nine budget bills, as well as the tax and bonding bills, to be re-written, introduced and voted on. Only the tax bill got a public hearing. Some spending bills were publicly posted and then voted on within hours. There were substantial changes to many bills, with previously included pieces of legislation like the Complex PCA dropped at the last minute. Legislators, staff, and lobbyists staggered out of the Capitol just before sunrise on Friday to get home in time to sleep through most of the Memorial Day weekend (I know I did).
By the Tuesday after Memorial Day, Gov. Dayton had signed all nine budget bills. He gave legislative leadership a letter saying that he'd done so to "forestall a bitter June showdown" over a government shutdown. The Governor complained about several provisions in the bills that he was strongly opposed to, and hadn't agreed to, in their last minute budget agreement.
Moreover, the majority leadership slipped a "poison pill" into the state government finance bill that would have zeroed-out funding for the Revenue Department if the tax bill was vetoed. Dayton reluctantly signed the tax bill and was so angry about the legislative trickery that he line-item vetoed funding for the House and Senate for FY2018 and FY 2019, meaning no salaries for legislators or assistants. Wow. I have not seen these two end of session maneuvers before.
The Governor hoped that by de-funding the Legislature in would force the re-negotiation of the items that he was so opposed to signing. At this point the legislature does not appear willing to re-negotiate any of the bills and seems set on a showdown in the courts. One citizen group has filed with the court, saying that Dayton's line-item veto was an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers.
The Legislature has hired outside counsel, and it is assumed, will file a complaint making the same unconstitutional argument. The Speaker of the House, Kurt Daudt, and many others, have said that Gov. Dayton's veto is clearly unconstitutional. However, reading the state constitution, the language clearly gives governors the power to line-item veto spending appropriations. There are no qualifications or exceptions. Another constitutional provision states that the branches of government have separate powers; specifically that one branch of government cannot do the other branch's job. For example, the Legislature cannot try people for a crime, or adjudicate a contract dispute between two citizens.
There are no previous cases to guide the court. The court could site the judicial doctrine of "political question" and decline to take the case, essentially telling the Governor and the Legislature, "you created this mess, you clean it up."
Now that we're rested up, we'll keep watching for court filings. This may not be done yet. Stay tuned.
Bill Amberg, CCD Contract Lobbyist
Join the Conversation
The Metropolitan Council is proposing to potentially raise all transit fares for publically supported transportation later this year. Now is the time for us - the disability community - to tell the Metropolitan Council what we think of the proposal.
Here’s what we need to know:
Metro Mobility and regular route transit service are critical to support independence for people with disabilities, many of whom who have limited incomes. Demand for this service has grown significantly in recent years, and the growth projections anticipate the demand will continue to grow between 5% and 8% a year, particularly as the population ages.
What can we do? Provide our thoughts and comments in a variety of ways
The Metropolitan Council needs to hear from us in the disability community! What do you think of a possible fare increase? Let them know using the following methods:
For more information on these proposed changes go to: https://metrocouncil.org/News-Events/Transportation/News-Articles/Comment-now-on-proposal-to-raise-metro-area-transi.aspx
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