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Romney Pick Shifts Election Focus To Disability Issues


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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s decision to tap Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate is bringing debate about Medicaid and other disability programs to the forefront.

As chair of the U.S. House of Representatives’ budget committee, Ryan has made a name for himself by proposing sweeping changes to government entitlement programs and broad spending reductions, drawing the ire of many disability advocacy organizations.

While most groups are classified as nonprofits meaning that they are not allowed to come out for or against political candidates under federal rules, disability advocates have consistently lined up against many of Ryan’s policy positions.

“For each of the two years that Paul Ryan has been chair of the House budget committee, he’s produced budgets that we’ve opposed,” said Katy Neas, senior vice president for government relations at Easter Seals. “The pick of Paul Ryan gives people another opportunity to look at the policies that he and the other candidates have proposed.”

In particular, a Ryan proposal to dramatically cut spending on Medicaid while shifting control of the program to the states through so-called block grants hits close to home, advocates say. Last year more than 90 organizations banded together for a Capitol Hill rally to oppose cuts to the program which offers everything from long-term care to medical insurance for many with disabilities.

“Any deficit reduction plan that finds money on the backs of people who use Medicaid for their lives is unacceptable,” said Lara Schwartz of the American Association of People with Disabilities, noting that the eight million Americans with disabilities who receive Medicaid services are “already living at the margins.”

Beyond Medicaid, disability advocates said Ryan’s proposals to reduce domestic discretionary spending could disproportionately affect people with disabilities through cuts to programs ranging from special education to job training and transportation.

Schwartz said her group would be watching the presidential campaign closely to find out to what extent the Romney camp will embrace Ryan’s ideas, which Democrats have strongly rejected.

Since Romney announced his vice presidential pick, a campaign spokeswoman told Politico that Romney would not be bound to Ryan’s budget proposals but did not offer further details.

In response to a questionnaire from AAPD and other groups, President Barack Obama’s campaign said that he has opposed “efforts to block grant the (Medicaid) program, enact steep spending cuts and erode or take away coverage for tens of millions of Americans with disabilities.”

Romney’s campaign has not yet offered any responses to a similar inquiry, Schwartz said.

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Comments (22 Responses)

  1. bjpinmo says:

    Obamacare, which takes $716 billion from Medicare, is the real threat. A downtroden economy, which is ensured with our current president, is the real threat to those who are vulnerable in society. Ryan’s plan actually addresses the fact that we are on a path to insolvency. Despite having both houses of Congress for his first two years in office, Obama has not produced a budget but has managed to increase our deficit by $5 TRILLION dollars, which will ensure that money that could be spent on people with disabilities is instead spent on interest payments.

  2. Rebecca Ross says:

    I can’t help but hear the echo’s of our current Governor here in PA. The sweeping changes to social service sectors and offering block grants instead of consistent funding policies have been initiated here in the last 3 years and it has been brutal. Working in the social services here has been heartbreaking recently, our client’s funding has been cut, people graduating at 21 years have no supports, programs are being dismantled or completely cut. I’d hate to see these policies go nationwide.

  3. Lori says:

    I have know people what have worked closely with Gov. Romeny here in Massachusetts and have been told by them that he is very disabled friendly. He worked closely to make the Mass. State house as accessable as possible.

  4. patsy soto says:

    As the parent of disabled children, medicaid and medicare are vital to the continued health and well-being of my children. A Romney presidency would greatly effect how my children live, and have an adverse effect on their health. Just one of my children’s medicines cost well over a thousand dollars- JUST ONE! And my children have more than five medications apeice- a voucher would not last a month with me! And the republicans want to put my children on this kind of limit? They have no idea of the costs incurred for the medicines and therapies that children with disabilities take- and they have proven that they DON’T CARE! I ask that all parents with children and adults with disabilities strongly oppose the Romney/Ryan ticket- it is bad for our loved ones, bad for our families, and just plain bad for America!

  5. richard k says:

    The very disability friendly Mr. Romney also created a healthcare system in MA, which was to be a model for the country. Would you agree he’s inconsistent?

  6. Judy B says:

    As a fiscal conservative and relative of a disabled person I clearly see the insolvency of our system in the near future and the needs of the disabled. Politicians have to stop the unsustainable progression of entitlements to everyone so the truly needy get what they need. We have to step back and look at the numbers. Doing nothing and continuing this path will not work. There are not enough rich people to tax, that is the reality. We need courageous politicians who will stop making promises they cannot keep. Ask your Senators and Congressmen what will they do when they run out of rich people to tax and that money is all spent.

  7. Cindy Falvo says:

    This was hardly a balanced story. I think you needed to present both sides and could have waited to include a Romney plan.

  8. Theresa Rhodus says:

    Does anyone remember when healthcare reform was about lowering the costs of healthcare? Nothing has changed except who’s paying for it. Instead of fixing the problem Obama has shifted the burden. Ryan is at least trying to make the system solvent but is still not addressing the high costs.nt

  9. Nancy Kleinberg says:

    Ryan’s budget is disgraceful. Societies can be judged by the way they treat the least among us.

  10. Leticia Velasquez says:

    If Americans with disabilities don’t make it to birth, then they won’t be worried about collecting benefits, will they? The Affordable Care Act pays for prenatal testing as preventative care. Preventing the birth of babies like my Christina a ten year old girl with Down syndrome. Over 75% of women when faced with a prenatal diagnosis, chose abortion. Preventatrive care prevents the disability benefits from too many recipients. Denmark brags that by 2030 no more babies with Down syndrome will be born. Preventative care.

  11. kerry wehmeyer says:

    look people what you dont understand romeny/ryan does not care about disablity people
    obama does because he toll the arc of united states that he does have there back
    and willing to help them out romney or ryan would not visit arc centers across the counrty if they would then those two should get have a reality check on whats going in disable community before cutting vaulable service to disable people

  12. nancy harris says:

    My son is 16 years old and is disabled as a result of a genetic defect. I have worked since I was 14 years old and continue to work in my mid 50s. While I earn a decent living, my son’s needs could not be met without professional nursing care (he has seizure disorder and feeding problems) However, without medicaid to pay for my son’s nursing care in home I would not be able to continue to work to support my family. I gave always had and continue to pay a part of the premium for private heallth insurance – (my private health insurance refuses to pay for such care) . I know many others in my situation. Cutting Medicaid for the disabled would be devestating for my family and other families.

  13. Thomas C. Weiss says:

    A, ‘voucher,’ is a little slip of paper that promises something. I am not willing to accept a, ‘voucher,’ in exchange for a promise to receive something as vital as health care, for example. People with Disabilities simply cannot accept a slip of paper and a promise for something so important as health care.

    I am also thinking about which type of administration has taken more actions to assist People with Disabilities – this nation’s largest minority population. Guess what? It wasn’t the Republican Party.

  14. Susan Senator says:

    Romney “would not be bound to Ryan’s budget proposals?” So he’s already trying to distance himself from his running mate’s platform? Not a huge vote of confidence for Ryan from his own running mate, I’d say.

  15. Andrea says:

    They seem lack comprehension of what Medicaid does provide. If a person with a disability is able to have personal care in their home under Medicaid, it costs the state about 1/3 of what they would pay for the person to reside in either a nursing home or institution. If the person is living at home, they may be able to become an employable, taxpaying citizen. The proposed block grants will put many back into a ‘warehouse’ situation and waste the Medicaid budget.

  16. Owenjeffs says:

    I am disabled with inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative pan-colitis and crohns disease complicated with perianal disease . To treat these two diseases it cost about $120,000 a year for me and Medicare is the only insurance that will cover me long term. I did nothing to deserve such an illness but i am just trying to play the hand i was dealt . As years pass you become a higher cancer risk, in which i am. I am not the only one in this situation as there is thousands just like me in the system of Medicare and Social Security. I am father of two beautiful daughters who hopes to live long of enough to see them graduate high school and maybe one day get married . I am not a actor or commercial just a sick american with a real name and social security number !
    Paul Ryan has been in congress for fourteen years and voted for everything under George W Bush and for everything under Republican party lines the last four years. Mitt Romney will say, flip flop or agree with anything he thinks that will help his chances of being President !
    A Romney – Ryan budget i think could be death sentence for me if they are elected ?

  17. Lee says:

    As usual Disability Scoop tells a very “pro-Government” side of the story.

    I don’t know the details of either Obamacare or Ryan’s proposal, but do agree that entitlements “should” be for those who need it and not for those who want it. We are the richest and one of the most generous nations on the planet, yet all we hear is people want/need more. We don’t have a need problem, we have a spending problem. The candidate that delivers where the need is and cuts the spending has my vote and that sentiment is best reflected by Romney and Ryan to me. Obama’s food-stamps for all approach creates a dependent society that we cannot afford. I have a child with a disability and do receive Medicaid to supplement some therapy and medication for full disclosure, but don’t feel so guilty about that having paid into the system for many, many years.

  18. Electric_Pink says:

    @Lee, if you familiarize yourself with the Affordable Care Act, as it’s properly named (not Obamacare), then you’d be aware that the plan is to provide coverage for people truly in need, and to require people who can actually afford to be financially responsible for their healthcare, to do just that. To, in essence, stop leeching off a program in danger of disappearing. The President is not a “food stamps for all” public servant as you crassly suggested. He’s at least trying to ensure that people in need are covered. That’s more than I can say for the Romney/Paul ticket. BTW, a lot of people who rely on Medicaid/Medicare paid into it just like you did. And are still paying.

  19. Dr Robert Fettgather says:

    Its very disappointing that advocates can be so persuaded by propaganda. The Scoop has it right. The cuts to programs in the last 4 years have been egregious, but is sloppy thinking to lay it all on the current administration that has fallen short of its promises for sure. A close look at the Ryan record alone should be enough to convince any disability advocate that our most vulnerable citizens would be pushed to the very edge and over in a Romney Ryan world. Dr Robert Fettgather

  20. Mel says:

    patsy, are you contributing to the expense of your own children or is the government just supporting them? I’m just wondering. Don’t have children if you can’t afford them.

  21. MichaelP says:

    As a triplegic I have seen too many people on disability in order not to work. Disability has grown out of control. If people want to have what is truly needed, the bleeding hearts under this government think it is their job to get everyone everything . We are borrowing from our children and grandchildren.
    We need to send a signal. We are broke!
    I could get a new wheelchair every 5yrs. Not needed. I can get an electric chair. Not needed yet.

  22. Barb Workman says:

    When you talk about Medicare is this Federal Goverment? Medicade is a state aid? Not all people on disability are on medicaid. How will this effect disabled folks,who are not on State Aid? and recieve Social Security Disability benefits from the goverment? I am also on Medicare with Humana. Please help me understand.

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