Thank you for your article on long term care in October. In addition to looking how we are providing community based services for the elderly we need to have a thorough public policy discussion about services for persons with disabilities.
Minnesota has been a leader in consumer directed programs but over the past several years we have taken steps backward.
We need to expand our consumer directed and self directed programs for persons with disabilities and the elderly. These programs provide individuals with a personal budget that allows them to be creative in how their necessary supports are provided. The funding formula for consumer directed community supports, an option available in all of our waiver programs, was dramatically changed in 2005 making the program unworkable for many individuals. For persons with developmental disabilities we have gone from 3000 to 1300 persons utilizing this service. With some new leadership for disability services at DHS we will now be working to remedy this situation.
During the 2007 session legislation passed authorizing the Self Directed Support Option 1915j. This option will allow individuals on medical assistance eligible for PCA services to essentially cash out those services creating an individual budget which they can then use creatively to purchase their supports. Unfortunately this option will not be available for several months but it is a major step in the right direction.
Minnesota needs to strongly pursue empowering individuals with disabilities and the elderly to have control over the resources available to them so we most effectively and efficiently meet their needs.