Social worker Vivienne Selia has a letter in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
As a social worker, I have worked with individuals with various disabilities and their families for more than 20 years and have seen the importance of Medicaid dollars to the well-being of children and families.
For those children and young adults between the ages of 3 and 21 who are in school, IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act passed in 1975) ensures that they will receive an appropriate education. Very often that will include a need for one or more therapies (speech, occupational, physical, behavioral) and/or individual aides or nursing care so that the person can learn to his or her best ability. Medicaid pays for many of these services. Most school districts could not manage to provide these services without drastically cutting other programs. In Pennsylvania, many districts are still trying to recover from Gov. Tom Corbett’s education cuts and do not have the thousands (or millions) of dollars necessary to pay for all the services mandated under IDEA.
IDEA also calls for early intervention services for children birth to age 2. If parents (or the rest of us) want children to have a chance at a productive life or life itself, Medicaid is needed. It helps to pay for services for premature babies and those born with special needs. Costs can be enormous and lifelong.
We have come a long way in helping to provide for people with disabilities, and now it appears that we are on the brink of going backward.