Today, I contacted the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services concerning a few areas of service they provide. One request concerned funding assistance for someone to help me a few hours a day with stuff around the house and the other was concerning some minor adaptive equipment for my car. I’ve used Voc Rehab several times in the past to help cover the exorbitant cost of medical equipment and vehicle modifications so I can remain a somewhat independent productive member of society.
As I spoke with the very pleasant young woman on the phone today, she took my information and asked specifics of the services I was calling about so a counselor could call me back to get further in-depth concerning my requests. She said some things that really kicked me in the kumquats during our short conversation, though.
- In Mississippi, if you’re disabled and need assistance getting dressed for work or getting in bed at night–I’m not even addressing shopping, cooking, laundry, or any of the other areas where someone might need help around the house–if you make more than $20k, you make too much for financial assistance in that area. Now, A home health agency in the Jackson area quoted a price for Friday night through Monday morning at a gnat’s hair under $1,000. Two and a half days costs $1,000. Repeat that a few times and do some math in your head, or pull out a calculator if you went to Ole Miss. If you make more than minimum wage, you probably make too much to receive assistance. It’s no wonder that some folks choose not to work when they could. If they have a disability, they’d go broke.
- Concerning the vehicle modifications, the nice woman told me to be sure to update my address with them, because it will take two years to get to my request. Two years… If my request was dire and I had to wait two years on it, how do you think my employment status would fare with me not having a way to get to work? I’d be unemployed and getting disability payments.
Well, after speaking with someone with knowledge of the situation, my assumptions were confirmed. The legislature, in its rush to provide as many tax cuts as possible for corporations, made a substantial cut to MDRS’s budget. The icing on the cake is that for every dollar in state funds they cut from MDRS, the agency lost $2.6 in federal matching funds. They piddled away wheelchairs, assistance to help people who want to and are on some level capable of maintaining gainful employment if for no other reason than to feel like a human, and scores of other products and services intended to help vulnerable Mississippians so they could make massive tax cuts at a time when the state couldn’t afford them. Never mind failing education, roads, healthcare, mental healthcare, and the other underfunded services on a mile-long list.
I’m going to avoid calling any names or falling into a 6 mile long screaming fit at all of the things that happen under the MS Capitol dome that I disagree with, but I’m going to end with this:
If you don’t have enough money to pay your gas bill this month, would it make any sense for you to go to your boss and tell him not to pay you as much in your next paycheck? It actually sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it? Well, there’s your legislature, folks.
AMEN, and pass the gravy…