2013 Missouri Legislative Session

By Shelby Butler, SCIL Access Coordinator

January 9, the 2013 Missouri legislative session started. This New Year means a new beginning and an important time to get to know your elected officials because 12 of the 34 Senators and 46 of the 163 House members will be new this session. They will begin working on proposed legislation and the state’s 2014 budget right away.

A hotly debated issue, Medicaid Expansion needs your advocacy. Governor Nixon issued in a statement that he supports expanding Medicaid, which will provide health care coverage to an additional 300,000 Missourians through provisions in the Affordable Care Act. On the other side, majority leaders in the House and Senate have issued statements opposing expansion because of increased state costs.

The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand Medicaid to cover low-income Americans who cannot afford health insurance by increasing the eligibility level to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (A family of four living at 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level in 2012 makes about $31,800 a year). The income eligibility levels expansion would include childless adults who cannot participate in Missouri’s current program, and increase coverage for parents.

“While Medicaid expansion doesn’t remove all barriers, it is a step forward.  It will provide more opportunities for people with disabilities to access health care, helping them to maintain their health and independence,” stated Megan Burke from the Disability Coalition on Healthcare Reform of which SCIL is a member.  To read more: http://www.paraquad.org/blog/2012/12/everyone%E2%80%99s-talking-medicaid-expansion-why-should-we-care
It is important to mention that Republicans will outnumber Democrats by a 110-53 margin in the House and by 24-10 in the Senate. Both have enough for the two-thirds margin required to override a Governor’s veto of legislation. This unique situation may affect outcomes with issues where the majority party strongly opposes.

SCIL wants to keep you updated and in the loop. To join our Legislative email listserv and receive alerts and updates, please email sbutler@swcil.org. You can also join the self-advocacy group; LOOP (Legislative Organizing Opportunities Project), which meets the second Friday of every month from 11-1:30 pm. Call Shelby or Stacy B. for details.

__________

Disability Pride

By Gary E Maddox, SCIL CEO

Often when I use the phrase “disability pride” I get that “deer in the headlights” expression followed by a myriad of questions. Therefore, I thought I would share some information that expounds upon the whole issue.

At the request of Sage Publications, Sarah Triano wrote the following definition of “Disability Pride” for the Encyclopedia of Disability: “Disability Pride represents a rejection of the notion that our physical, sensory, mental, and cognitive differences from the non-disabled standard are wrong or bad in any way, and is a statement of our self-acceptance, dignity and pride. It is a public expression of our belief that our disabilities are a natural part of human diversity, a celebration of our heritage and culture, and a validation of our experience.

Disability Pride is an integral part of movement building, and a direct challenge to systemic ableism and stigmatizing definitions of disability. It is a militant act of self-definition, a purposive valuing of that which is socially devalued, and an attempt to untangle ourselves from the complex matrix of negative beliefs, attitudes, and feelings that grow from the dominant group’s assumption that there is something inherently wrong with our disabilities and identity.

”Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, “One must not overlook the positive value in calling the Negro to a new sense of manhood, to a deep feeling of racial pride and to an audacious appreciation of his heritage. The Negro must be grasped by a new realization of his dignity and worth. He must stand up amid a system that still oppresses him and develop an unassailable and majestic sense of his own value. He must no longer be ashamed of being black.”

Although there are many barriers facing people with disabilities today, one of the single greatest obstacles we face, as a community is our own sense of inferiority, internalized oppression and shame. The sense of shame associated with having a disability has, indeed, reached epidemic proportions.

Disability rights movements in different countries have made many gains in the area of civil rights over the past decade, but what good is an Americans with Disabilities Act or a Disability Discrimination Act if people will not exercise their rights under these laws because they are too ashamed to identify as being disabled?

“As long as the mind is enslaved,” King wrote, “the body can never be free.” As long as people with disabilities remain ashamed of who we are, we will never realize the true equality and freedom we so desire. We must first take pride in ourselves as a community. We must no longer be ashamed of being disabled.

“Dismantling centuries of internalized oppression, however, and promoting a widespread sense of Disability pride is easier said than done. Unlike other civil rights movements, people with disabilities do not always have the benefit of a generational transfer of disability history and pride through the family structure. There are no “disability churches” per se, neighborhood enclaves, or other communal institutions where people with disabilities can come together by choice and consistently receive positive messages that counteract the depredation wrought by the onslaught of cultural terrorism. There is a tremendous need to create a counterculture that teaches new values and beliefs, and acknowledges the dignity and worth of all human beings. Disability pride is a direct response to this need,” said Sarah Triano, National Disabled Students Union.

I understand that this is a lot of information to swallow and digest so I will break it down in our south central Ozark Missouri lingo. First, we must understand that disability is a “natural part of living.” Then, we accept that we are okay just the way we are! Only then can we have an expectation from others to accept us, as we are….that’s disability pride!