MHRA Amendment to Include “Episodic Disabilities”
This proposal would clarify that “episodic disabilities” are covered under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. This policy idea resulted from a U.S. district court judge who ruled in Josianne Mell vs. The Minnesota State Agriculture Society that because the MHRA does not have specific language around “episodic disabilities” but the Americans with Disabilities Act does, it means the MRHA is intentionally omitting “episodic disabilities” from state disability protections. This means the State of Minnesota cannot intervene in cases that involve episodic disabilities. Those with episodic disabilities must go to the federal government to have their cases heard. This proposal will bring the MHRA in line with the ADA and allow the state of Minnesota to assist Minnesotans with episodic disabilities in discrimination cases.
Increasing PCA Pay and Homecare Support Shortage
The shortage of home care workers is growing at an alarming rate in Minnesota. This has had a tremendous impact on those who rely on home care services because it inhibits their ability to have the security and stability in their lives that most people take for granted. Due to their inability to hire and retain quality home care workers they know and trust, their health, safety, and dignity needs have not been met. The time, energy, and challenges of finding workers leaves people with disabilities feeling very vulnerable, burdensome, and at times with little hope for the future. We support raising the pay for PCAs and creating viable career pathways for those who enter this profession. We believe that with better pay and retention incentives, more people will enter and stay in the profession, thus relieving the homecare worker shortage.
PCA Ability to Drive Clients While Working
Currently, Personal Care Assistants (PCAs) in Minnesota can only clock-in hours during which they are providing services to a person with a disability. However, if they need to drive their client to medical appointments or other personal errands, the time spent driving is not considered time during which a PCA can clock-in. PCAs provide critical services to the disability community and the current wage-earning process inhibits PCAs from providing more services that require travel by car. Allowing PCAs to consider time driving a client as on-the-clock expands access to services to the disability community. Restricting PCA’s ability to transport clients directly contradicts the principles set forth by the Minnesota Olmstead Plan, adopted by the State of Minnesota in response to a legal settlement in 2011. The Olmstead Plan states that people with disabilities are entitled to live, learn, work, participate in their communities and enjoy life in the most integrated setting possible.
Rare Disease Insurance Access
Under most Minnesota-based health insurance policies, Minnesotans with rare diseases must first see doctors and specialists within their insurance network before being referred to see a specialist that is out-of-network. Due the nature of rare diseases there are likely few doctors in-network who may be aware of the disease, much less able to treat the condition. This requires a person with a rare disease to see many doctors and can be both a time and financial burden on a person with a rare disease. Updating Minnesota law to require health insurance plans to allow people with rare diseases to see rare disease specialists right away, regardless if they are in-network or not, would save time and reduce the financial burden on the person with the rare disease. Rare disease patients often have diagnostic odysseys, waiting an average of 6 years from onset of symptoms for an accurate diagnosis.
Accessible and Affordable Housing
For Minnesotans with disabilities, the housing shortage crisis is exacerbated by the lack of accessible, affordable housing. Accessible, affordable, and inclusive housing is nearly impossible to find for people with disabilities in Minnesota. The most accessible building code in Minnesota still makes a roll-in shower “optional” and there are currently no standards for sensory accessibility features for housing developments. This proposal would increase accessibility (make roll-in shower required) for the existing accessibility requirements (5% of units) and add sensory accessible units (5%) for housing projects utilizing Housing Infrastructure Bonds (HIBs).
MA-EPD Income & Asset Limit Increase
Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) is a program that many Minnesotans with disabilities rely on for consistent and reliable access to healthcare. However, current income and asset limits restrict Minnesotans with disabilities on MA-EPD ability to earn and save money to ensure their financial security. The income and asset limits perpetuate poverty for people with disabilities by requiring spend downs or high premiums to access Medicaid. MA-EPD also restrict Minnesotans with disabilities from saving up for vehicles, housing, and other large purchases that help Minnesotans with disabilities live independent and financially secure lives. We believe that increasing income and asset limits for MA-EPD will improve the financial freedom for Minnesotans with disabilities, allow them to grow their careers, and have the chance to become business entrepreneurs.