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Courage Center Experts Disagree With Gov. Pawlenty's Proposed Budget Cuts
Date:1/27/2009

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn., Jan. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Minnesotans with chronic conditions and disabilities face very real threats to their health and independence under the proposed budget of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, according to health care policy experts at Minneapolis-based Courage Center.

"As a leading rehabilitation service organization we provide therapy services to thousands of Minnesotans following an illness, surgery or tragic accident," said Jan Malcolm, CEO of Courage Center. "While our services would be cut by almost $1.7 million under the proposed budget, the broader effects on the community would be far more severe. The Governor proposes to completely eliminate physical, occupational, speech and audiology therapies from all public health insurance programs for adults in need of rehabilitation.

"When the I-35W bridge fell, we and other providers helped those individuals who were hurt return to their lives and livelihoods. Under this budget, we would get paid for those with employer-based health coverage, but not for those on Medical Assistance. That's short sighted."

Rehabilitation services are the very services that people need in order to avoid loss of function or the development of secondary complications, which cost far more money in the long run. "This is completely contrary to the state's goals in health reform, which call for better management of complex and chronic medical conditions," said Malcolm.

For more than 80 years, Courage Center has been a leading advocate for Minnesotans with disabilities and chronic conditions, providing a wide array of services to promote health and independence across the life span.

    Other proposed budget cuts would:

    -- Cut by 3 percent, all payments for outpatient medical services through
       public health insurance programs.
    -- Cut by 3 percent, all payments for Medical Assistance waiver services.
    -- Cut by 3 percent, payments to nursing homes (including Courage Center's
       Transitional Rehabilitation Program for newly injured individuals with
       brain and spinal injuries).
    -- Eliminate dental, podiatry and chiropractic care for those on public
       health programs.
    -- Eliminate critical access dental services, a new state program designed
       to reach the most underserved areas of Minnesota.
    -- Eliminate access to personal care attendant (PCA) services for 2,100
       people.
    -- Limit access to some long-term care services (Medical Assistance
       waivers) that provide case management and other services to those with
       severe disabilities who would otherwise reside in institutional
       settings.
    -- Increase monthly premiums for a jobs program that encourages people
       with disabilities to return to work.

While human services spending represent a growing part of the state's budget, it includes critical services for the state's most vulnerable citizens.

"We were saddened to see that people with disabilities and the elderly didn't crack the governor's Top 5 priorities," said John Tschida, Courage Center's vice president of Public Affairs and Research. "Human Services funding is taking a huge hit -- $1.3 billion in cuts. No other area of the budget comes close to this level of pain. This budget fails to acknowledge the state's changing demographics and the need for future planning," he said.

About Courage Center

Courage Center is a nonprofit rehabilitation and resource center that advances the lives of children and adults experiencing barriers to health and independence. At Courage Center, we specialize in treating brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, chronic pain, autism, and disabilities experienced since birth. Founded in 1928, Minneapolis-based Courage Center offers advanced technologies and innovation provided in part through the efforts of thousands of volunteers and donors. For more information visit http://www.CourageCenter.org.

Contact: Sue Warner, Communications Specialist, Courage Center

               763-520-0263 / cell 763-258-6889, sue.warner@couragecenter.org


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SOURCE Courage Center
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