Kayla's Corner - What Issues Matter to Me

Kayla Rodriguez thumbHello, everyone!

Thank you for keeping up with my progress as an intern at GCDD. Since my last post, so much has taken place. I know I told you all last time about how my schedule was about to change due to my participation in the legislative session. Well, after trying it out, I realized that I’m not yet ready to work at the Capitol.

I discovered that I am very passionate about certain issues, and it is tough for me right now to turn that passion off when I’m meeting with people whose values do not align with mine. Have any of you all ever experienced that difficulty?

I have to be honest and say that, although my colleagues are not disappointed in me, I have had a difficult time realizing that I might not be ready to work in a state agency and engage in the legislative session.

However, this experience showed me how decisions made by lawmakers affect us every day. Most recently, I learned that Governor Brian Kemp has decided to add ZERO new NOW/COMP Medicaid waiver slots to the budget this year. And this affects people with disabilities.

There are over 6,000 Georgians with disabilities on the waiting list for a Medicaid waiver, and before this recent change happened, only a maximum 250 waivers were given out each year. So now that no slots are added, it is likely that no one on the waitlist will receive a waiver at all this year.

Some need these waivers to be part of their communities and live their lives, and some need it to even stop living in hospitals and nursing homes. In fact, I am currently exploring the possibility of starting the application process for a NOW/COMP waiver, and it is certainly daunting. How long will I have to wait? What will happen to everyone else who is waiting? How will we get the supports we need?

The lives of people with disabilities can quite literally depend on these waivers. So I’d encourage you to contact your state senator and state representative to let them know what you think. (Tip: Use Open States to find your state legislators’ names and contact info if you don’t know them already!) You can also contact Governor Kemp’s office here.

Once you’re able to get in touch with state policymakers, tell them what the governor’s office recommendations mean for you, your loved ones or your neighbors. Tell them what will happen if no new waivers are funded. Tell them your story.

Speaking of stories, sharing my story is one of the most powerful ways I am learning to advocate. While I mentioned that the legislative session may not be the best place for me, I can still use my voice to advocate during our remaining GCDD Advocacy Days.

As I think about other settings where I could better exercise my passionate drive and desire to make change, I reflect on the support my colleagues at GCDD have given me in finding the right future career path for me.

Shouldn’t we all have that kind of support?