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Disability Advocates Return to Idaho Statehouse Friday

It’s interesting that when there are cuts, that’s when people come out. We’re expecting about 300 people this year.”

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Scores of individuals and their caregivers are expected to descend on the Idaho Statehouse Friday, Feb. 8, to participate in Disability Advocacy Day, the same day that the Idaho House and Senate Health and Welfare committees will take public testimony about the funding—or lack thereof—for Gem State health care.

“We’re really hoping to be able to have folks meet face to face with legislators,” said Katherine Hansen, the executive director and one of the founders of Community Partnerships of Idaho, Inc.

Sponsored by the Consortium for Idahoans with Disabilities, Disability Advocacy Day will include several displays, filling the fourth floor atrium of the Capitol, highlighting achievements of Idahoans with disabilities, advocacy groups and projects, and services offered throughout Idaho.

Men, women and children who are disabled, the families and support groups are all expected to weigh in before the joint legislative hearing. But advocates expect this year's turnout to be a bit lower than previous efforts.

“It’s interesting that when there are cuts, that’s when people come out. We’re expecting about 300 people this year.” Hansen said.

In 2011, when lawmakers cut $35 million from the Medicaid budget, more than 800 people came out to give testimony on their experiences with Idaho health care. In 2012, when the funding was still not restored, the number of people participating was closer to 400.

Although there have been other wins for health care advocates, including the restoration of the Idaho Suicide Hotline, Hansen hopes the Legislature will restore preventative dental care for all disabled individuals on Medicaid and more with this year’s session.

The public hearing will take place in the Capitol Auditorium (Room WW02) on the garden level from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Testimony should be limited to three minutes.