We keep asking, waiting, as doors open slowly

Disability service providers are highly adaptive, resilient, and committed to serving others. Difficulties come, and we pull through. We find a way to move forward and stay true to our mission.

I am so appreciative of the work MOHR members are doing to find creative ways to stay connected to the people who rely on our programs. I have heard so many positive stories about how remote services have made a difference in people’s lives and reduced the effects of isolation, and about providers figuring out creative and innovative ways to connect with and assist the individuals they support.Julie Johnson

With the shutdowns due to the coronavirus, there’s been a lot of asking, and far too much waiting. Providers in many of the surrounding states have received relief funds for fixed costs, and we will keep asking for them here. Our system must be preserved.

We are so grateful for the support of families and service providers who are reaching out to state leaders to share their local organization’s story. As other issues are dominating our news cycle and legislative agendas, we can utilize the strong relationships we’ve nurtured with senators and representatives. They have the ability to make us a priority.

We keep educating and waiting. We will not stop advocating and fighting for the funding and support needed to keep these critical services available and communities whole. We will not stop educating state legislators and other stakeholders about the need for immediate financial relief to preserve Minnesota’s systems of services that support adults with disabilities to have meaningful employment and day enrichment options.  

As some MOHR member programs are reopening services in the coming days and weeks, we are coming back, albeit slowly. We still don’t know when the virus numbers will peak and start to go down, and how this will impact congregate settings.

In a small victory on the federal level, providers have been included in relief fund payments of at least 2 percent of lost Medicaid revenue. We had expected this would be 6.2 percent, but it does represent a first step toward much needed financial relief. It provides hope for many that have reached a crucial tipping point. At the state level, our legislators and others are working on extending the waiver flexibilities past the peacetime emergency declarations made by the governor.

In other MOHR news, we have board elections this week, and our Legislative Conference is going virtual, on August 27. We look forward to gathering feedback from providers to determine our legislative plans going forward.

Hang in there and know that we are here to help answer questions and assist in any way we can. These are truly uncharted times for us all, and we are grateful to be navigating this together. Thank you for all your work and commitment to improving the lives of Minnesotans with disabilities.

Julie Johnson