SHARECOMMENTMORE

RICHFIELD, Minn. -- Nathan Bauer is proud of his home and he's giving a tour to his new friend.

"I call this the entertainment room,"Nathan says as he shows his guest to the front of the house.

"You've got your CD's much better organized than I have my CD's," says Senator Al Franken.

That's right Senator Al Franken is Nathan's guest and new friend. The 33-year-old has developmental disabilities and met the Senator at an event with Hammer. Hammer helps people, like Nathan, live independently and realize their dreams.

"He's pretty impressive, he's a pretty impressive guy," says the Senator.

Franken is impressed with how outspoken Nathan has been as both a self-advocate and an advocate for other people with disabilities.

"We go to talk to legislators at the capitol and we talk about the budget and money and we don't need no more cuts," Nathan says.

Up until now, Nathan's parlay into politics has been at the state level. But with the Congressional Super Committee threatened to slash Medicaid funding, the Senator knew there would be no better advocate than Nathan to head to Washington.

So he did. Nathan and his family made the trip to D.C. last week. They hadbreakfast with Franken at his office, they had the chance to tour the capitol and take part in a press conference regarding legislation for people with disabilities. While the trip was fun, it certainly had a real purpose.

"Nate lives independently, he works, he pays taxes and that was all made possible by the help of Medicaid funds. It's exactly the kind of thing we want to do with our Medicaid dollars," Franken told a group of people outside his office.

That was all before this week's super-failure by the Super Committee. The fact that the 12 lawmakers couldn't come to a budget slashing decision is actually good news for Medicaid. The program is protected against the automatic cuts that are set to start in 2013.

Crisis averted for now, but it doesn't mean Nathan, or Senator Franken, will stop fighting to protect a way of life for Americans with Disabilities. But, it does mean this is just the start of a new friendship.

Thanks to Hammer and Arc of Minnesota, Nathan is not only able to live independently, he also has a job, pays taxes and even volunteers in the community. He is a productive citizen and an asset to our community.

SHARECOMMENTMORE