As a recipient of Medicaid and an advocate for people with disabilities at North Central Independent Living Services, I understand the transformational power of public assistance programs like Medicaid and SNAP for seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income working families. These public programs help Montanans make ends meet and stay active and contributing members of our communities. At NCILS, we have assisted many north-central Montanans with disabilities access these and other services they need to live in their home communities.
Accessing these critical programs can be daunting for many Montanans. Unfortunately, while state legislators should be focused on easing bureaucratic barriers, bolstering essential services, and reversing the devastating cuts of the last several years, we are instead seeing bills that would make it even harder for seniors and people with disabilities navigate the state bureaucracy and get and keep the benefits we are eligible for.
Bills like Senate Bill 100 purport to be about reducing errors, fraud, and abuse, but the truth is applicants must already provide extensive information about their financial, medical, and household composition, and the state already validates that information against over 30 state, federal, and private databases. SB 100 would spend valuable state resources to build duplicative and unnecessary IT systems and hire new state employees to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
The true result of bills like SB 100 would be that people with disabilities who are unable to navigate bureaucratic processes would be at risk of losing benefits for no other reason than that they can’t cut through the additional layers of red tape.
Please urge your legislators to oppose bills like SB 100 that would grow state government while making it harder for people to get and keep the services they need. Instead, join me in asking our leaders to work on building back the service that assist Montanans with disabilities stay contributing members of their home communities.
Independent Living Specialist
North Central Independent Living Services
Black Eagle, Montana