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Obama Defends Disability Programs, But Says Reform Needed

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The president sharply defended entitlement programs benefiting people with disabilities as he laid out his plan to reduce the nation’s budget deficit Wednesday, but said some change is needed.

In a speech at George Washington University, President Barack Obama said he wants to trim $4 trillion from the federal deficit over the next 12 years through a mix of spending cuts and increased taxes for the wealthy.

But, he said fixing the nation’s budget woes should not come on the backs of the elderly and those with disabilities, contrasting his approach with a Republican plan that the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider Friday. Under that proposal, Medicaid would be dramatically altered and significant control of the health program would be transferred to the states.

“It’s a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit,” Obama said of the Republican plan. “Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down syndrome. Some of these kids with disabilities… require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves.”

Obama’s plan does call for modifying Medicaid through a simpler reimbursement structure for states, among other efficiency efforts designed to save $100 billion over 10 years.

On Social Security, however, Obama said he does not want to make any immediate changes since the program is not a major contributor to the deficit.

Republicans were quick to criticize Obama’s approach, setting the stage for a fierce budget battle. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the president’s proposal a “non-starter.”

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Comments (6 Responses)

  1. goingcrazymom5 says:

    Perhaps some money could be saved by simply reducing some of the administrative costs attached to medicaid. For example, my daughter has Down Syndrome and qualifies for Tefra medicaid, each year we are required to not only reapply (which makes sense), but to also go through the determination of eligibility process. Three people in our circle, and myself are required to be interviewed by an outside vendor to determine if she still meets the requirements to be considered disabled. Her diagnosis in and of itself isn’t going to change, her delays aren’t going to change so much from year to year that she is all of a sudden going to be on target with normally developing. This costs a lot of money that isn’t necessary, not to mention that each year we have to focus on the things she can’t do in order to keep the level of medical care that she needs, rather than being able to celebrate how far she has come. She is only one child, but multiply those costs over ALL those that go through the same process, and you would save needed money. These are not things that can be faked in order to take advantage of the system, these disabilities are real and the medical needs are real. Perhaps a 5 year review, but yearly is wasted money.

  2. Unitedmedia says:

    As a former gubernatorial appointee for families who had young children with disabilities (I have a daughter with Downs), I can’t help but say that taking control out of the feds and into the states is the way to go. How can we be ok with the status quo when we have tens of thousands of people on waiting lists for services? Sure, people have services, but are they worth having? Are there so many people in the pool that services need to be reduced so greatly to include people who really shouldn’t be there?
    Give control to the states so that they can find creative ways to provide better services to more people.

  3. ecurra19 says:

    I hope that Obama who defends Disability Programs will get to the bottom of this situation and Reform is Needed to make sure the consumers are receiving the services as is the case at the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

  4. ecurra19 says:

    I do not trust the States or the territories to do what is needed to be done. I believe that the feds should study this subject because the “Free Enterprise” is making benefits from the community and not the consumers. The States will pocket the benefits.

  5. sdavis2 says:

    As someone with a disability, I have seen first hand how crucial it is for individuals with disabilities to receive the services they need. I completely agree with President Obama, the programs need to be reformed, but do not make cuts to the most vulnerable population of people. Such a inhumane approach to fixing the nation’s deficit is uncalled for. A much better approach would be to drug test people who receive social services. The courts can mandate people to go to rehab but cannot mandate people cannot use illegal drugs while receiving social services? That would save taxpayers thousands of dollars.

  6. bluerose6879 says:

    From personal experience I think reducing the number of people who are not in need of this would dramatically cut costs. My daughter has Spina Bifida with tethered cord. Although she is able to attend “regular school” there a lot of activities she is limited to do due to the possibilty of beinf retethered. Though all of her medical needs are covered I tried to apply for SSI to possibly get a little money to enroll her in safer activities the school doesn’t offer such as ballet. I have been denied twice saying they do not feel she is disabled according to their terms. Which would be understandable if I didn’t know people who are getting SSI for their children that have environmentally caused ADD, an adult who “claims” to not be able to read, among other children who have basic social issues. How is this? The ones who don’t really need it get it but those who do can’t because of them!!!!

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