My name is Michael Grice and I am going to be talking about a Springfield trip that I took with Access Living on May 25th.   Access Living took approximately 33 individuals.  There were 2 primary reasons Access Living took this trip to Springfield.

The first issue was in regards to the overtime regarding the home services program. Self-advocates have had a very difficult time in working with their managed care companies as far as their home service hours and their personal care assistants.

Access Living and other organizations have been working on this overtime issue for over a year now. The reason we met with a lot of different legislators was to let them know how important the home service program is to the disability community.  Because the average consumer needs more than 45 hours a week of home service hours, it also affects the personal care assistants.  If they have to support their family members out of their home services wages they make, it is not a livable wage.  That was the first issue.

The second issue was that we truly want the important legislators in Springfield to pass a budget so that a lot of community based agencies, centers, independent living centers can get back the money that they lost in the last two and a half years. There have been some independent living centers that had to close their doors due to this budget impasse and they will not be able to re-open their doors.  So many of those consumers are scrambling to find programs and services where they can stay in the community. So, once again, on May 25th, we encouraged all the legislators that the staff and consumers meet with to pass a budget.

We did get the overtime bill through the senate and the house. Now we’re just waiting for the governor to sign it. But we pretty much know what the governor is going to do with that bill when it comes to overtime issues.  So the fight’s not over yet.

Stay tuned. There’s more to come.