Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman carries the story today of Rep. Shelley Madore, DFL-Apple Valley, who went to the Capitol a few years ago (before she was elected to the House) to explain to lawmakers why her $900+ a month insurance premium should've required her insurance company to pay for the $60,000 operation her son needed (the Madores are said to have grossed $50,000 a year).
Madore, the story says, encountered a lawmaker :
When Madore told the guy (he's no longer in office) that many families are forced to pay hundreds per month for supplemental insurance policies, he said such policies are a discretionary expense, much like his decision to pay for the cost of his son's hockey ice time.
"I went through the roof," Madore says. "I told him, 'This is wrong, and some day I'm going to come up here and change the system.' He looked at me and said, 'Good luck with that, dear.' Well, that was all I needed. I went home and said, 'I'm running for the Legislature.'"
Politicians have been hounded out of office for uttering words that show not only a lack of empathy for a working person, but the lack of good sense to keep them to themselves. Madore confirmed for me today that the comment came from then Rep. Fran Bradley of Rochester. It wasn't the first time Bradley drew the parallel between keeping your kid alive and suiting one up for the big game.
But back in June 2003, hardly a word was heard when Bradley, who chaired the House Health Policy and Finance Committee, according to an MPR story, responded to the plight of parents of 4,700 disabled Minnesota children with this:
"For that price, you're still getting quite a bargain. If your kid was choosing to play hockey, it wouldn't be unusual to pay those kinds of expenses. My son is in a marching band and we averaged out for the year, the trips that they have taken it would be in those ranges. I know it's a sacrifice, but I hope they would be balanced in their thinking."
Bradley was re-elected by a big margin, and then retired after the 2006 session.
He now writes a monthly column for the Rochester Post Bulletin.
In her first year in the state legislature, Shelley Madore established a 'Disability Caucus' of interested members of the Legislature to delve into issues important to members of the Disability Community. In late 2007, when the Legislature was not in session, they held open meetings on issues including poverty, with testimony provided by Minnesota citizens. "Our descent into poverty was rapid," Madore said at one of the meetings, referring to a health care system that requires people to be indigent to qualify for some benefits.
An example of a restriction for qualifying for benefits are the limits on personal property that have not been updated for many years. I believe a family is 'allowed' to have an automobile valued at $3,000. Yes, three thousand dollars.
Now that may have been the norm in 1968, but this obviously does not reflect inflation.
So this should be changed to reflect Twenty-First Century property values. Since it seems reasonable to expect that a family with a person with disabilities has a right to want reliable transportation, and sometimes the need includes special adaptive equipment for the vehicle, like hand controls, or a wheelchair lift, this should probably be increased by 15 times to $45,000.
The current system encourages people to hide their assets in order to be eligible for the services and programs for children and people with disabilities because of the very stringent 'qualification' requirements.