Disability Advocates Protest Medicaid Cuts
In what’s being billed as a national day of action, dozens of advocacy groups are joining members of Congress to sound alarm bells about proposed cuts to Medicaid, which they say will have severe consequences for people with disabilities.
With rallies on Capitol Hill and across the nation on Tuesday, disability advocates plan to speak out against the American Health Care Act, a Republican health care reform bill that was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in May.
The legislation would fundamentally alter Medicaid by shifting the program to a per capita cap system. Rather than operate as an entitlement program, the federal government would offer a fixed amount of money for each beneficiary.
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If enacted, the plan is estimated to reduce Medicaid spending by $834 billion over 10 years, according to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office.
“These cuts and caps are absolutely unacceptable,” said Alison Barkoff of the Center for Public Representation who is helping to plan the events organized by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of disability advocacy groups. “People with disabilities will be harmed and literally there are some people with disabilities who might not be able to survive these cuts.”
Barkoff said that optional benefits like home and community-based services would likely be the first affected if cuts or caps are approved leading to longer waiting lists, service reductions and more stringent eligibility requirements.
U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., are expected to appear at the event in Washington, D.C. midday Tuesday.
Meanwhile, additional rallies are planned in Texas, Illinois, Montana, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona and Washington, many of which are scheduled to take place outside lawmakers’ offices. And, disability advocates from across the country are being encouraged to call their senators.
The efforts come as a group of Republican senators work to develop their own version of the health care bill.
“There are thirteen senators hidden away in the capitol plotting to decimate Medicaid,” Casey said. “They are going to hear from all of us.”