Florida Self-Advocacy Central has reached out to all gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates with specific questions about their positions on issues affecting people with disabilities.
We used a sampling of questions designed by REV UP, an American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) initiative, created to increase voter registration and encourage people with disabilities to vote.
Democratic candidate for governor, Jeff Greene, sent us the following answers to our questions.
What do you think Florida should do to assist families and caregivers of people with disabilities?
One of the first things I will do as Governor is bring our dollars back from the Federal Government and finally expand Medicaid in Florida. Each year, the State of Florida leaves federal match money on the table because they will not allocate the general revenue to draw down the match. There needs to be a plan to allocate revenue in the budget to address this need. I will ensure that our state agencies, including the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Department of Children & Families, that provide disability services are adequately funded and will prioritize spending on long-term, home and community-based care over institutionalization.
Do you support or oppose proposals to block grant Medicaid spending or convert funding to a per capita cap system in Florida? What Medicaid services in Florida, if any, would you seek to eliminate under a block grant or per capita spending system?
Block grants and per capita cap systems do not provide the level of supports and services needed to assure individuals with disabilities are able to remain in their communities. These programs tend to reduce funding and support levels to that of least need without the flexibility to assure the person has the supports and services needed to maintain their health and safety. Healthcare should be of primary concern to all citizens. Elimination of Medicaid services when it is already underfunded would continue the trend to eliminate the supports a person needs.
As Governor, how would you address the shortage of consumer-directed, as opposed to agency-directed, supports for adults with developmental disabilities?
Removing some of the regulations surrounding consumer-directed supports and more parity in funding for these options will help increase consumer-directed supports as an option for adults with developmental disabilities. The State Agency for Persons with Disabilities has a contract with Qlarant to assure that supports are provided on a consumer-directed basis. Without adequate allocation of funds, individuals will have to choose between the least expensive options or going without services once their adjusted cost plan is spent. Increased General Revenue dollars will assure individuals have the cost plans needed to meet their individual needs and individuals on the waiting list are being served. I will direct the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to prioritize consumer-directed support for adults with developmental disabilities.
The disabled population is under-represented in the electorate. In the 2016 election, disabled people voted 6% less than their nondisabled peers. What steps will you take to reach these voters to engage them in the democratic process?
My entire campaign is built on fighting for all Floridians, especially those who have been ignored or forgotten. Our campaign is communicating with an unusually diverse audience of voters, using many different modes and strategies. Instead of focusing on the small segment of the electorate that are reliable primary voters, we are reaching out to a much wider, more inclusive audience.
How do you plan to build an infrastructure that addresses the underemployment and wage gaps experienced by people with disabilities?
Having become an educator after founding the Greene School, I understand that so many of our issues in Florida can be addressed by fixing our public education system and making our schools world-class. A big piece of that is providing an equal opportunity for educational success to every student, regardless of ability or disability.
As Governor, I plan on moving our public education system from 40th in the country into the top 10. Once we do so, we will be able to attract employers that will bring solid, living wage job opportunities to all Floridians. The proliferation of better jobs in the state will provide much greater employment opportunities to historically marginalized communities, like the disability community.
How will you ensure students with disabilities have the same access to ambitious educational opportunities as their peers?
I will direct the Department of Education to implement policies to ensure that the needs of all children are being met. I will increase funding and encourage public and private partnerships with other entities. There are Federal programs that enable such partnerships to occur. Establishing a reimbursement system that encourages collaboration rather than single funding is needed to allow partnerships to grow and develop.
Florida Self-Advocacy Central would like to thank Mr. Greene for participating in our interview and sharing his insights with us. https://www.aapd.com/advocacy/voting/
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