• Radio personality lobbies for rights of disabled

    From: WCF Courier

    WATERLOO, Iowa — People who use wheelchairs overcome obstacles on a daily basis.

    From negotiating gaps between sidewalks and handicapped ramps to finding an aisle wide enough to check out at the grocery store, those using a set of wheels as legs encounter problems most people can’t see.

    They have enough challenges without the federal government putting more hurdles in their way.

    That’s why Teri Lynn Jorgensen went to Washington, D.C., last month to stand up for disabled folks.

    The on-air personality and program director for Cedar Falls radio station KCVM “Mix 93.5” went to visit legislators and call for the repeal of a new Medicare law that requires the use of the lowest bidder for Medicare-funded equipment. For Jorgensen, who considers her wheelchair an equivalent to legs, it could mean long travel days or exhausting waits to repair or replace vital equipment.

    She has developed good relationships with local providers since she first started using a wheelchair in 2002 and would hate to have to go elsewhere for what she needs.

    “Taking away the choice is what has my feathers ruffled,” Jorgensen said.

    The bill that would repeal competitive bidding for durable medical equipment is in committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. A similar bill never made it out of committee during the last Congress.

    The competitive bidding program hasn’t yet reached Iowa, but it is in effect in nine regions around the country.

    Jorgensen joined VGM’s People for Quality Care advocacy group in traveling to Washington in March to try to sway Congress to repeal the bill.

    She feels strongly about making life better for people with disabilities, even if she had to get over the feeling she doesn’t want a disability to define her.

    Jorgensen was born with spina bifida. She started using the wheelchair after two back surgeries left her unable to walk. She appreciates all the things that allow her to remain independent and works to help others with similar challenges.

    “I advocate a lot for people with disabilities. A lot of people won’t speak out, but God gave me these vocal chords, and I’m going to use them,” Jorgensen said.

    While in Washington, Jorgensen met with a number of legislators and participated in filming a video asking U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, to create a Senate version of the House bill that would repeal the Medicare bidding requirement.

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