Citizens with disabilities rally at capitol building

Max Lewis, attorney and disability advocate, speaks at the Disability Rights Legislation Day Rally in the first floor rotunda at the capitol building.

Max Lewis, attorney and disability advocate, speaks at the Disability Rights Legislation Day Rally in the first floor rotunda at the capitol building.

Parker Willis

Several groups met in Jefferson City for the sixth Disability Rights Legislation Day at the Capitol.

The rally focused on two main points, the ticket to work health assurance program (HB 39) and Missouri healthcare (SB 577 and SB 581).

The group believes currently Missourians with disabilities are being neglected. As Proof of that, they cite how the MAWD (Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities) program was cut in 2005.

Megan Shulz, policy analyst and organizer for the St. Louis Paraquad independent living center, said the ticket to work bill is an attempt to replace that program.

“The cut resulted in a lot of people with disabilities becoming unemployed because they couldn’t afford to stay employed,” Shulz said. “They are only allowed $723 income a month, anything over that results in having to pay a portion back to the state.”

She said this legislation is to help people with disabilities transition into being independent, because right now they can’t afford to live on their own with the price of medication and living as high as it is and the cap on the income they can make.

Max Lewis, attorney and disability advocate, said another problem is the quality of care provided to citizens with disabilities. He said healthcare providers come when they want, leave when they want and have the ability to fire you as a client if they don’t like you.

Being paralyzed from the neck down Lewis said this is unfair, because he needs help with everything he does and can’t risk not having assistance. This is why he is advocating laws restricting this type of behavior among healthcare providers.

Sen. Chuck Graham (D-Columbia) also came to lend his support.

“I’ll be glad when we can stop having rallies and start getting healthcare,” Graham said. “I’m tired of the broken promises around here. This is not about Democrats and Republicans, it’s about Missourians. Let’s work together to restore healthcare.”

Graham’s speech was probably one of the best received of the day. And resulted in a chant afterwards with the crowd yelling ‘What do we want? Healthcare. When do we want it? Now.’ The chant echoed throughout the Capitol.