Describer: Trevor Turner, Public Policy Director for the Minnesota Council on Disability interviews Amanda Adkins about her reaction to the Governor Waltz Budget Engagement Event: Disabilities Communities on March 25th, 2021.
Amanda, who has a son with cerebral palsy, asked the Governor about the change in rates for durable medical equipment which many people with disabilities rely on to maintain access to their communities.
Trevor Turner: Hello everyone. My name is Trevor Turner and I’m the Public Policy Director for the Minnesota Council on Disability. I’m a white male with blonde hair and blue eyes. I’m wearing a black sweater and I use he/him pronouns.
Today, I am here with Amanda Adkins the disability advocate in our community. Amanda, would you be willing to introduce yourself?
Amanda Adkins: Yeah. I’m Amanda Adkins. I am a white woman with brown hair and brown eyes. My pronouns are she/her. And I am a teacher and a mom to a nine-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy and is physically disabled in the Twin Cities.
Trevor: Great. Well, welcome, Amanda. So, the reason we’re here today is a couple of weeks ago, we had an event with the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. We were fortunate to have them come and do a town hall-style event where they answered questions from the disability community.
And you were one of the people who asked a question. Can you tell me what kind of question you asked? I mean, I know you asked about durable medical equipment and the rate going from Medicaid to Medicare. Can we ask why you asked that question and what you hope to get from the Governor?
Amanda: Yeah. I asked that question because my son uses quite a lot of durable medical equipment and we have had our own fair struggles throughout the years of getting denials, just even on the Medicaid system.
So it is a high concern for my family because if we’re not able to get the things that he needs to live the child will have to actually live in to a hospital in order to get those things paid and taken care of. And he doesn’t want to live in a hospital, and we don’t want him to. He’s much better at home.
So, it was a big concern for our family to ensure that he had that – had the medical equipment he needs to have a good life here in Minnesota.
Trevor: Absolutely. And we hundred percent support you in that question. And the Governor responded and I’ll read a little quote, just a short quote from him, he said that, “The 2019 budget negotiations ended with us reaching a compromise on a blue-ribbon commission to find 100 million dollars worth of savings in our HHS budget. Lieutenant Governor and I were (indistinct) kicking and screaming but legislating is the art of compromising and we compromised on this. But I think you hit a point on this where reaching a compromise on fiduciary responsibility to finding about budget shifted those costs onto people who can least afford it. This is something that we’re going to have to take a hard look at.”
So, the Governor was surprisingly very frank and honest that he may have made a mistake on this compromising policy. And he alluded to the fact that most often, when, you know there are budget negotiations often times the burden is put on people with disabilities.
So, what did you think of the Governor’s response?
Amanda: I appreciated the response and I’m glad that – that he was aware of the fact that this should not have been compromised and that we do really do need that hard look because it is important. Things are denied and people are going without either medical equipment or they’re being hospitalized for these kinds of things.
And that’s a lot more taxing on the State and on Medicaid than it would be just to pay for the medical equipment outright.
So I am confident that he would look into it but I am a little concerned about whether or not people will listen to our Governor and Lieutenant Governor when they say, “We’ve met with people in the disability community and this is a high need, high concern.” This is not a place to cut corners to save some money, that you’re actually really harming our most disadvantaged.
Trevor: Absolutely. And the Lieutenant Governor pointed out that you asked the question in a very Minnesotan diplomatic way, but this is a question that a lot of people are getting fired up about and getting angry.
Why did you asked it in a Minnesotan way?
Amanda: Well, as my father always has said, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” So, I wanted to make sure that the question was heard and not just dismissed as anger. We can come to a consensus on this and we can make a difference for all Minnesotans that use durable medical equipment. And we can make Minnesota even a better place to live for people with disabilities.
Trevor: Yeah, absolutely. Well, we’re really happy that you asked that question. And then the last question for this interview, how do you think the disability community can hold the Governor accountable on this issue?
Amanda: I think that if we can still continue to be at the table for the discussions. I think these discussions should not be closed meeting between just everyone in the legislation and the Senate. We need people like me, like my family at the table to tell you what that looks like in a proposal.
A proposal on paper looks great but actual real-world application comes. You’re not going to be able to hear or learn from that unless you talk with the disability community. So continually bringing us to the table, I think is one of the most important things that we need to do right now in order to ensure that we can get this fixed and we can continue on a good path.
Trevor: Absolutely. Nothing about us without us, right?
Amanda: Yeah, exactly.
Trevor: Well, thank you Amanda so much for attending our Governor’s engagement event and asking your question and thanks for doing this interview. We want to continue to hold the Walz Administration accountable and subsequently the administration after that.
So, I think you did a great job and we are happy to –
Amanda: Thank you.
Trevor: – continue to fight on that issue.
So, thank you everyone and I hope you have a great day.
Describer: White text on a black background.
[On screen text:] Minnesota Council on Disability Legislative Forum.
Centered on the screen is a white square with the state logo, a blue M, green N. Minnesota Council on Disability. Underneath the white square, we have white text on a black background.
[On screen text:] For more information about the MCD Public Policy Program contact Trevor.Turner@state.mn.us.