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Lawmakers in Minnesota Gear for Reform of the Assistance Program

Disabled child in a wheelchair on a city street
Photo: Dreamstime

In a rare show of unity, state legislators and disability rights advocates are gearing up for a major push to reform Minnesota’s $3 billion assistance program for people with disabilities and break down decades-old barriers to inclusion and independence, Minnesota StarTribune reports.

Just weeks before the 2020 Legislature convenes, both DFL and Republican lawmakers are calling for legislation or regulations that would help people with disabilities become more integrated into society and to live more independently.

They are also taking a closer look at how the state administers approximately $3 billion in Medicaid funds for disability services, taking aim at programs that can isolate people from the broader community.

Several prominent lawmakers said they see opportunity in the recent  turmoil at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), the state agency that oversees Medicaid and disability services. The result has been leadership changes and, they say, a possible shift in priorities at the giant department.

“The time has never been better to pursue a new vision — a vision for independence,” said Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, who oversees a key human services committee. “There is a broad recognition that, every day, our system gets in the way of people with disabilities being independent.

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