In addition to leading weekly memoir-writing classes for older adults, I work part-time moderating a blog for Easterseals National Headquarters here in Chicago. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been publishing posts on the Easterseals blog written by people with disabilities who count on Medicaid to help them pay for everything from personal care attendants to doctor visits.
My co-worker Erin Hawley has muscular dystrophy and describes herself as a “Geeky Gimp.” She’s the digital content producer for Easterseals Thrive, a site providing mentorship for young women with disabilities. When she’s not at work, Erin watches lots of Star Trek, meets up with her board game group, obsesses over Mariah Carey, and attends pro-hockey games — all while working on a Master’s degree online from East Carolina University.
The post Erin wrote about Medicaid changes for our Easterseals blog was quoted Tuesday in an opinion piece on CNN called Medicaid Works — Let’s Keep it That Way.about proposed changes to Medicaid. I was moved by Erin’s post, and thought you Safe & Sound blog readers might be as well. Here it is:
by Erin Hawley
Almost every morning, a personal nurse gets me up and dressed so I’m ready for work. They assist me with eating, toileting, and keeping my airway open – the basic necessities of life. When I don’t have a nurse, my parents and boyfriend take over those duties, ensuring my ability to live in the community rather than a nursing home or other institution. Medicaid pays for my nurses and the medical supplies I need – paying for these out-of-pocket would cost more than my entire paycheck. And without my nurses and med supplies, I could not live how I choose to live, and how I must live. My happiness and well-being shouldn’t be contingent on whether or not I can afford healthcare.
The drastic cuts to Medicaid in the AHCA would be a disaster for anyone receiving services under the program, and low-income disabled people would be the hardest hit. In many states, Medicaid is already on a strict budget; further cutting that budget puts states in a difficult position of denying its citizens the care they need to thrive in the community. Low-income individuals already struggle to stay afloat, and losing personal care assistance, medication coverage, or access to a physician could lead to worsening health or even death. This is not hyperbole; states that rejected Medicaid expansion made their citizens suffer, possibly leading to over 7,000 deaths. Cutting Medicaid further would simply put more lives on the line. The program may not be perfect as many still don’t receive as much care as they need, but the answer is not pulling funds to an already underfunded system.
The Senate needs to make the right decision, and side with their constituents who would suffer under the AHCA. Cutting Medicaid would also endanger the programs at Easterseals that give people with disabilities the freedom to live independently, go to work, attend school, or find a community of friends. The AHCA would endanger all ages, from babies to seniors. And if you don’t think it’ll affect you, remember that you or a loved one could become disabled at any time and require the services Medicaid provides. Even if you are not directly affected by the AHCA, someone you know probably is, regardless if they speak about it publicly. We can’t prosper as individuals or as a society if a portion of its citizens are literally fighting for their lives.
I am asking that you call your senators or send them emails asking them to protect Medicaid. Easterseals has a list of resources available on how to contact your representatives, including images you can use on social media to further this cause. Let’s work together to #SaveMedicaid.