State Sen. Kathy Sheran and Rep. Terry Morrow watched as Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation that includes changes to Minnesota’s Medical Assistance for Employed People with Disabilities (MA-EPD) program. The legislative changes were part of a larger Health and Human Services bill that passed last week.
The necessary MA-EPD changes came to light five years ago through one of Sen. Sheran’s constituents, Pastor Don Roberts of Mankato. Pastor Roberts has suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) for over 15 years.
Charles Van Heuveln, who suffers from cerebral palsy and who has advocated for the change, also attended the bill signing.
MA-EPD encourages disabled people to work and remain independent. MA-EPD participants can keep up to $20,000 in income earnings, stay in their homes and receive services such as personal care attendants. All this ends at age 65.
For Pastor Roberts that would mean the end of his ability to earn a monthly income and his entire pension and three-fourths of his social security check would go to medical assistance, leaving him and his family with no income.
“I have been trying to pass the MA-EPD age waiver for five years, after Pastor Roberts came to me with his concerns,” Sen. Sheran said. “I’m happy that Rep. Morrow also was able to join our efforts to ensure that this important change was made.”
“We were able to work with Governor Dayton and across the political aisle to finally get this situation fixed,” Rep. Morrow said. “The courage of Charles Heuveln and others, who came to the Capitol to tell the committee of their desire to work beyond the age of 65, certainly helped persuade legislators.”
The cost savings in this reform made MA-EPD very valuable, Sen. Sheran noted.
Pastor Roberts wrote a letter to Governor Mark Dayton about the issue last year: “I feel strongly, also, that this program should be extended through the retirement years, enabling people like me to contribute to society, as well as have their medical assistance.”
“The perseverance of people like Pastor Roberts and the others who have been willing to tell their story that has made this change possible. This has been a long road, but well worth the effort. I intend to give the pen the Governor used to sign the bill to Pastor Don Roberts in appreciation for bringing this need to my attention.” Sen. Sheran said.