My name is Linda-Mary Sarafolean, and I work as a living skills instructor in Eden Prairie at a senior’s day program through the nonprofit organization Opportunity Partners.
The population I serve includes seniors who have different levels of skills and disabilities. Many live in residential group homes in the metro area and some reside with family. I want to raise awareness about an issue that could have a detrimental effect on people with disabilities.
In late February, the Minnesota Department of Human Services received notification from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of a problem with Minnesota’s rate setting policy for people with disabilities receiving home and community-based services. If the problem is not fixed by the state Legislature, the issue will result in a 7 percent cut to the rates for services received by several thousand Minnesotans with disabilities.
On March 13, people representing multiple disability organizations, including Opportunity Partners, flooded the State Capitol to talk to legislators about this potential cut to services. People shared their stories about why these services are needed in our community. At the center where I work, our services help seniors with disabilities build connections with peers and staff, have opportunities for socialization, and experience community activities.
The impact of a 7 percent cut will be severe and will ultimately affect all people with disabilities who access home and community-based supportive services, as well as the direct care staff members like me who support them.
The nonpartisan advocacy group, the Best Life Alliance, has introduced legislation that will stop this devastating cut.
I urge our entire community to contact Rep. Joe Hoppe and Sen. Scott Jensen to ask them and their colleagues to support Best Life Alliance legislation (SF 2889/HF 3191) to stop the cut that will harm people with disabilities.