ST. PAUL, Minn (WCCO) – Charles Van Heuveln of St. Paul was not looking forward to turning 65 in May.
Van Heuveln has cerebral palsy, and turned to the Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) program to help him live and work.
The incentive program helps people with disabilities become more self-sufficient, allowing access to necessary health care.
However, he was set to lose all the incentives when he turns 65, due to the program’s budget constraints.
Calling the loss of his incentives “devastating” would be an understatement.
Van Heuveln was going to lose his personal care attendant, and his ability to afford his adapted condo.
He would be forced into retirement, and worse, poverty, along with hundreds of others.
Luckily, Van Heuveln’s concerns were not ignored.
A bill was passed to restore $18 million in funding to Health and Human Services, providing funding to the program, as well as hope and balance to its recipients.
At the signing Monday, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton says it was an extraordinary effort, and one of the few bi-partisan agreements during this difficult legislative session.
“Charles and others came forward and bravely told their story of wanting to work and to continue to work and not being punished for having worked,” Dayton said.
As an aside, legislators say M&Ms helped get them get through the tough talks.