FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Legislators listen at MS Action Day
More than 70 Connecticut residents came to the State Capitol Tuesday ready to tell their personal stories of lives affected by multiple sclerosis.
March 11 marked MS Action Day — part of MS Awareness Week, which runs through Sunday, March 17. Those who came to the Capitol met with legislators to share the impact this chronic and often disabling disease of the central nervous system has on their lives.
"We are excited by the number of people who came out today to talk about how the polices made right here directly affect their day-to-day lives," said Susan Raimondo, community programs director for the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter.
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents live with multiple sclerosis. There currently is no cure. Symptoms can include numbness in the limbs, vision and speech problems, stiffness and, in severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms differ for every person with MS.
Legislators on hand Tuesday to speak to the group included Sens. Mary Ann Handley, Joan V. Hartley, Edward Meyer and Martin M. Looney, and Reps. Christopher G. Donovan and Kevin Ryan. A number of people who live with multiple sclerosis and their family members also had individual appointments with their representatives later in the day.
For the past two years members of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter have advocated at the Connecticut State Capitol Building in support of a pilot program to provide homecare to residents between the ages of 18 to 64 with multiple sclerosis and other disabilities. The program launched last October.
But there is more left to do, said Raimondo. The chapter would like to see the program available to more people who need services to maintain their independence.
"Our pilot is helping, but now we have to modify our legislation so the asset level matches the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders," said Raimondo.
Caring for a person using the pilot program costs an average of $1,550 per month, although that number can be as high as $2,600, said Raimondo. The Connecticut Department of Social Services’ pilot program was funded with $720,000 in state dollars.
The new Connecticut Homecare Program for the Disabled serves people 18 to 64 with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or other neurological degenerative diseases. Thirteen of the 21 people taking part in the pilot program as of the end of January are dealing with the effects of MS.
For more information about MS Awareness Week or programs for people affected by the disease, call 860-714-2300 or visit www.ctfightsMS.org.
CUTLINE:Sen. Mary Ann Handley — who represents Bolton, Glastonbury, Manchester and Marlborough —speaks with Phillip Licht of Manchester as part of 2008 MS Action Day held at the State Capitol Tuesday, March 11. Licht was one of around 70 supporters who turned out for the day, designed to educate legislators about the needs of people living with multiple sclerosis. Gov. M. Jodi Rell has proclaimed March 10 through 17 MS Awareness Week.