Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Opinion

May 27, 2014

New law aids children with disabilities

Last week, while reading the morning news, I came across an incredible story about Parker Mantell. Parker recently graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington and gave the commencement speech for his graduating class, which literally became famous overnight. Earning a degree in political science, he spoke to the audience about his various internships during college, which included answering calls for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, giving Capitol tours for Senator Mark Rubio and working in the office of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

This is an impressive résumé for any college graduate; however, what was most intriguing about his speech was that he lives with a disability; he stutters. If you haven’t seen his speech, I strongly encourage you to look it up, but without giving too much away, Parker credits IU with giving him confidence and expelling any doubts in his ability to succeed, despite his disability.

I was beaming with pride that such a story had come out of Indiana, and Parker is clearly on a path to a career in public service. It is evident after watching this video and as a public servant myself, that we need to continue to help Hoosiers with disabilities and encourage them to follow their dreams. Working toward this goal, we passed several new laws this session that benefit Hoosiers with disabilities.

I was proud to support Senate Enrolled Act 397, which deals specifically with disabled children. Under current Indiana law, if a disabled child lives in a nursing facility and the condition is untreatable, he or she does not qualify for wheelchair reimbursement from the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning.

Upon reviewing this policy, the Legislature realized that because of disabilities, the state was essentially holding these children back and denying them equipment that they needed. However, as a result of SEA 397, which will go into effect July 1, Medicaid will be required to reimburse a nursing facility for a specialized or nonstandard wheelchair that is purchased for one of these children.

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