It has been extremely disappointing for all of us to continue to weather the effects of this pandemic on our organizations without financial relief, despite the herculean efforts of MOHR members, families and advocates to seek emergency funding and highlight the importance of our services.
We are beaten, but not broken. We will exhaust every resource to get a bill passed for funding during an upcoming special session. We will continue to push on DHS to file for retainer payments with CMS as many other states have already done. We will continue to make our case to DHS that our nonprofits should be allowed increased flexibility to open for longer hours and greater capacity, and remind them we have the proper safety procedures in place.
Too much is at stake
We will continue to push Governor Tim Walz to take his “One Minnesota” promise seriously and ensure that this includes Minnesotans with disabilities. We need the leaders of our state to step up and take decisive action to provide the long overdue emergency funding to keep these valuable services available on the other side of the pandemic. To quote a powerful letter State Senator Jim Abeler
recently wrote in support of emergency funding for our services, “It is time to act. There is simply too much at stake.”
While I acknowledge how terribly frustrating our current situation is, I also want us to consider how our recent legislative advocacy efforts may benefit our services in the long-term. We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of MOHR members and people in their networks who have been reaching out to legislators about their need to support these vital employment and day services. We have also seen a significant increase in the level of outreach to legislators from the people we support - and they are sending more meaningful and personalized messages than ever before.
More understanding than ever before
This is all making a difference to how our field is perceived. We have legislators who previously did not have a good understanding of our services speaking up on the House and Senate floor about our issues. They are connecting the dots of what exactly these services are in their community and what they mean to the people who need us to support them. Now, we have legislators, visibly moved by the contents of the communications they are receiving, repeating powerful and passionate messages about our financial struggles and the implications for Minnesotans with disabilities.
While we are still hopeful that all of this work soon results in much needed emergency funding, please know that this progress in the relationship building with our legislators will be incredibly helpful in the long run as we continue to advocate for policy and funding changes to best support the people in our programs. The relationships you are forming or strengthening with your legislators today will be invaluable as we continue working on legislative issues tomorrow and into the future.
And, to our members, we need your help now to fill in your service and revenue info on our new online dashboard
and update it each month so we can better make your case at the Capitol. Additionally, we are seeking grant funded technical assistance from external consultants to help as you move through these uncharted waters.
Thank you for all you are doing. It is making a difference, even if it does not always seem like it. We must keep it up.