In The Politics of Autism, I discuss health care issues and state Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Today is Medicaid Day of Action. Across the country, Americans are protesting Trumpcare cuts to Medicaid.
While Medicaid is best known as a health care program for poor people, more than 80 percent of its budget goes to care for the elderly, the disabled and children, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only 15 percent goes to health care for able-bodied adults.
The program has been growing in recent years and it now makes up almost 10 percent of federal spending. That's why it's the number one target in President Trump's proposed budget, and figures prominently in the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. Some estimates suggest the program could be cut by more than 1 trillion dollars over 10 years.
After three years of intense therapy, Ben now goes to his local public school and works on grade level in math and English. He no longer works with his private therapist or uses Medicaid benefits.
"We just decided not to reapply," Nancy says. "The need had been met."
President Trump and Republicans in Congress have proposed massive cuts to Medicaid's budget over the next decade, and Nancy and Dan Gapinski worry that the services they used for Ben won't be there if he needs them in the future, or be there for other families.
"I don't know what Ben will need in his lifetime," Nancy Gapinski says. "Our goals for him are very much like our goals for our daughter Zoe. We really want for them to be active, engaged citizens.
"In Idaho Falls, ID, Bryan Clark reports at The Post-Register:
More than 100 people rallied Monday in front of the offices of Rep. Mike Simpson and Sen. Mike Crapo. They were there to protest proposed cuts to Medicaid under the American Health Care Act, which recently passed the House but has yet to be taken up by the Senate. Both Simpson and Rep. Raúl Labrador voted for the bill.
The bill is projected to leave tens of millions uninsured while achieving small deficit reductions and large tax cuts for high-income households.
Holly Giglio is the mother of an 18-year-old boy with Down’s syndrome and autism. He, too, is nonverbal. Giglio said despite her family earning a good income, many services her child needs, including services in school and therapy, would be unattainable without Medicaid.
“My husband works at the site,” she said. “My husband makes decent money. We have excellent health care. But we needed Medicaid.”
James Steed, a member of the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities who is himself disabled, blasted the AHCA as a measure that would do great harm to people like him.
“Eight-hundred billion dollars — that’s what they want to take away from Medicaid,” Steed told the crowd. “That takes away people’s ability to live on their own. … That takes away the possibility of them living a life free, with choice and control of their own lives.”
The AHCA is, in fact, projected to cut $834 billion from Medicaid over the next decade.