Sen. Paul Wellstone Remembered During my presidency of the Minnesota Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the years attending ASHA state policy meetings, I became aware of the political issues facing health care. I began to pay attention to Minnesota politicians and stood in line at the Minnesota State Fair to meet state legislators and congressional representatives. ... Features
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Features  |   November 01, 2002
Sen. Paul Wellstone Remembered
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Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / School-Based Settings / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / Features
Features   |   November 01, 2002
Sen. Paul Wellstone Remembered
The ASHA Leader, November 2002, Vol. 7, 3. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.07212002.3
The ASHA Leader, November 2002, Vol. 7, 3. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.07212002.3
During my presidency of the Minnesota Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the years attending ASHA state policy meetings, I became aware of the political issues facing health care. I began to pay attention to Minnesota politicians and stood in line at the Minnesota State Fair to meet state legislators and congressional representatives. It was there in 1991 that I first met Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN). He asked to have his picture taken with me while I held my newborn daughter.
More important than the picture was his level of interest as I discussed with him the importance of health care coverage for speech, language, and audiology services; adequate coverage for rehabilitation services, even for those with degenerative diseases; and benefits for school-age children.
I continued to meet with him and his staff every opportunity I had both in Minnesota and on Capitol Hill. I worked on Wellstone’s campaign in 1996. My last visit with him was in his Capitol Hill office in conjunction with an ASHA Legislative Council meeting. I brought my daughter with me, the same daughter he had met as a baby. He insisted once again that a picture be taken of the three of us in his office. Again we discussed speech, language, and hearing services in health care and education; newborn hearing screenings; and patients’ rights. Again, he was most supportive and encouraging.
Wellstone will be remembered for his progressive political platforms and voting records, his accomplishments on behalf of the poor, and his extensive grassroots network. Among the lengthy list of issues on his agenda were domestic violence, agriculture, education, universal health care, poverty reduction, campaign-finance reform and election reform, foreign policy, and veterans’ affairs. He was a vocal advocate of the poor in the Senate.
He wrote the Patient Protection Act to protect consumers and health care providers and the Healthy Americans Act to work toward universal health care. He led the fight to protect Medicare from arbitrary cuts. He voted yes on including prescription drugs under Medicare and on medical savings accounts. Along with other senators, he authored several initiatives to make mental health coverage on par with other medical illness.
He voted in favor of virtually every major form of federal funding in the Senate for education initiatives, including formation of the Higher Education Act, the Vocational Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Workforce Investment Act. He and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) won a Senate amendment to fully fund special education (IDEA) programs in schools. He advocated for funding $2 billion over a 10-year period through IDEA for school districts in Minnesota that require additional resources for students with special needs or disabilities.
Wellstone said, “Politics is not left, right, or center. It’s about improving people’s lives.”
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November 2002
Volume 7, Issue 21