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What policies will you propose to address the opioid crisis without eliminating pain management options for those who live with chronic pain?

First off: All policy decisions must be evidence based vs reactive. With that said, opioids must be prescribed through clinical practice guidelines that can help ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment. We must take steps to help those with acute and chronic pain who need access to medicines, including opioids, get improved treatment alternatives too. Transitioning from the current market, dominated by conventional opioids, to one in which most opioids have abuse-deterrent properties, holds significant promise for a meaningful public health benefit. This can also include medical cannabis too.

Would your proposed policies account for the needs of some individuals to utilize both medical marijuana and pain medication in different facets of their treatment? If so, how?

Yes! We need to make medical cannabis much more accessible and train more providers in prescribing it too.

What changes will you make to ensure that people who require pain management services can access and receive services that center their individualized needs?

We need to ensure access, distribution, and cultural bias are all addressed with regard to pain management medications.

Do you plan to address the disparity in equitable pain management treatment experienced by those in the Black, Indigenous and People of Color or multiply marginalized communities? If so, how?

Yes, it is challenging in Florida as racial disparities are ignored -- but we must push for providers to be cultural competent.

What policies would you implement to ensure people with disabilities receive comprehensive, high quality, and equitable mental health services and insurance coverage?

We must eliminate the APD waiting list, increase mental health funding, and ensure insurance parity as it pertains to mental health insurance coverage.

Share your thoughts on co-responder programs (mental health & law enforcement joint response to mental health crises).

Fully support and in fact Orlando has been piloting an alternative response system that has been very effective. Law enforcement should also go though training with directly impacted communities so that they may better manage situations that involve a mental health crisis and/or people with disabilities.

How would you work to eliminate the disproportionate connection between being disabled and becoming entangled in the criminal justice system as opposed to being given necessary and equitable mental health treatment?

Expansion of co-responding programs along with law enforcement training is essential. But we also need to address the lack of funding for mental health and the need for affordable housing options too.

In your opinion, what can be done to identify and mitigate disability bias in the treatment of mental health? How would you work to address this?

Negative attitudes, stereotypes and stigma surround people with disabilities and it absolutely impacts how they treated in health care spaces too. This is where disability bias training for providers would be transformational.

What policies would you propose to encourage public investment in improving accessibility and implementing universal design?

I have actually filed budget requests to help make local parks are ADA friendly -- we should continue to fund these projects and ensure all state parks and buildings are accessible too.

What policies or incentives will you promote to encourage private business owners to make their buildings accessible?

Matching grants and also opportunities to be graded as accessible employers.

How can housing data be utilized to better account for the needs of people with disabilities and to promote increasingly accessible living spaces?

Being able to identify how many homes/apartments are (and are not) accessible will help demonstrate how serious this problem is and incentivize all levels of government to do more.

What policies would you implement to provide people with disabilities with equitable access to upward economic opportunity?

The ADA prohibits employment discrimination based on disability by employer however discrimination still happens especially when it comes to denying raises or meeting someone who might need more than one accommodation. With that said: DBPR can play a larger role in ensuring employers know about the ADA; we can also amplify and award employers who are already doing the work in equitable access for people with disabilities and help other businesses model after them. Organizations like Able Trust, Best Buddies, and ASGO are all good partners to help with this effort too.

What changes to the current social safety net would you propose to implement a more all-encompassing framework that allows people with disabilities to receive needed services that are not currently covered by private or employer-based insurance, such as personal care and other uncovered assistance they may require, while not limiting the ability to pursue economic opportunity? If so, how?

We need to expand Medicaid and close the coverage gap and also eliminate the APD wait list. We must also invest in affordable housing options for people with disabilities.

How would you work to promote and incentivize equal opportunity for those with disabilities in employment?

Continue to work alongside organizations like CIL, Able Trust, Best Buddies, and ASGO who are doing so much of this advocacy already. Also focus on legislation that helps provide a process and pipeline for employment.

How would you propose to address the barriers that unequitable access to transportation create to economic opportunity for those with disabilities?

We need to identify dedicated sources of transit funding.

What policies will you propose to better protect the rights of parents with disabilities and to ensure they have needed supports?

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the ADA protect parents and prospective parents with disabilities from unlawful discrimination in the administration of child welfare programs, activities, and services. Unfortunately, discrimination still happens. Some steps we could take include: FL should work to eliminate disability from their statutes as grounds for termination of parental rights and enact legislation that ensures the rights of parents with disabilities. At a federal level, DOJ, in collaboration with HHS, should issue guidance to states (specifically child welfare agencies and dependency courts) on their legal obligations pursuant to the ADA. We should also gather data on parents with disabilities and their interaction with child welfare and dependency court systems to better understand the issues in FL.

Research shows that removing a child from their parents should only be used as a last resort. How might you work to ensure this standard is adhered to equally when parents with disabilities are involved and adaptation isn’t conflated with neglect or abuse?

See above.

What policies would you propose to further address bias against parents with disabilities among child protection workers?

Need to ensure disability bias training w/in the judicial system and provide resources that outline parents rights.

When support is needed to guarantee that individuals with disabilities can exercise their parental rights, how will your policies ensure such supports are easily accessible to the family?

Pro-bono legal support should be made available for those who need it.

What policies do you propose to protect the reproductive rights of people with disabilities?

We should repeal abortion bans and ensure disability bias training within medical field especially reproductive care providers.