The Minnesota Senate has once again passed over $20 million in public health aid for disability service providers.

These providers have been severely affected by the increased cost of operating with COVID-19, and the relief dollars will be drawn from the state’s coronavirus relief fund. The bill also expands eligibility for an elderly customized living program to those with disabilities for one month. Both pieces of Senate File 1 will provide necessary help to our disabled communities.

Home and community-based disability service providers were already struggling financially before COVID-19 changed their operating standards. Increased supplies, distancing standards and higher transportation costs were enough to send many over the edge.

More providers began to barely scrape by. The loss of the services not only means a reduction in jobs, but a loss of support and care for our disabled community. Home and community-based providers often offer a level independence to their clients that they may not be able to maintain otherwise.

Everyone should have the opportunity to live life to the fullest, and the providers we supported with the bill make that possible for so many people.

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We in the Senate passed similar legislation multiple times in earlier sessions with no previous support from the House majority. The necessary passage of Senate File 1 in both bodies will give these providers some short months of relief to pay for fixed costs and ensure health and safety standards are upheld. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and was signed into law by the governor.

Sen. Jason Rarick represents District 11 in the Minnesota Senate.