Could Health-Care Cuts Cost Disabled Americans Their Freedom?

No cuts to Medicaid! These are protestors in front of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s office. Many of whom are in wheelchairs. They’re protesting the Medicaid cuts in the Republican health-care bill. President Trump and Republicans in Congress are proposing huge cuts to Medicaid. The fifty year old federal safety
net, which right now covers about one in five Americans. People with disabilities may be
the first to feel these cuts. My attendants help me do everything. Getting out of bed and toileting. And getting ready for the day. That’s all funded through Medicaid. Hi Corwin, this is Stacey with accommodations. I am able to work right now 40 hours
a week, but that’s possible because I have attendant support. Medicaid’s budget has been growing
in recent years. It now makes up almost 10% of federal spending. The largest savings in the Senate’s
health-care proposal would come from reductions in Medicaid spending. Many Republicans say slowing the growth
of Medicaid is crucial to saving it. Medicaid is a welfare program. Its primarily designed for the indigent elderly, the disabled, the blind, and children. Obamacare expanded the pool
of Medicaid recipients beyond its original intentions. We have a provision that very slightly slows down the rate at which Medicaid will continue to grow so that this is actually a sustainable program. I think it’s very reasonable. Entitlement reform has been the holy
grail for Republicans for a generation. So Medicaid, sending it back to
the states, capping its growth rate. We’ve been dreaming of this since I’ve been around. Since you and I were drinking at a keg, you know? I was thinking about something else, he was thinking about reforming Medicaid. I was, I was. Make no mistake, this is a repeal and a replace of Obamacare. Make no mistake about it. It’s important to realize that this
isn’t just a rollback of Obamacare. It’s actually a deep cut of traditional medicaid programs that cover disabled people and kids. It caps spending over time, and reduces it by up to 35% over the next two decades. So you’re talking billions of dollars here. And with that kind of cut, states really only
have a couple of options. They can either raise taxes, they can cut eligibility, or they can cut the services they offer under medicaid. And one of those services that they offer is home services for disabled people. Stacey: When I think about being 18 or 19 years old it was really challenging because that’s when I started to identify as queer or gay, and my parents are evangelical Christians. And so it was really hard to have space to sort out what that means when my family is the one that is providing my day to day care. Moving away, to me symbolized I’m
worth it. I mean, living on my own, which is possible
because of attendant supports, means I can live the life I want. And that was a big turning point to me. If I was living with my family because of care needs then my life would look very different. Advocates say that these services are at risk under Trump’s proposed budget because they are considered optional. Medicaid is required to pay for hospital and nursing home care, but not in-home therapy and support. Those services under the Medicaid
program are optional, they’re not required. So when states are squeezed for money, they are going to reduce those services or end them all together. And without that help they face institutionalization. In the 70’s and 80’s Medicaid
began to be used to provide services in the community rather than institutions. So that people could have control over their
lives. The fear now is that this is a tremendous loss of hard won gains by the disability rights movement over the last four decades. On April 5th, 1977, five to six hundred
people in wheelchairs, with walking canes and hearing aides, stormed the regional office of Health, Education, and Welfare in San Francisco. I lived in this building, ate, slept, in this building for two weeks. Fighting for the rights of disabled persons to have an independent life. Their purpose, to stop discrimination against the disabled in what will become the longest occupation of a federal building
in U.S. history. For many disabled people, it was the first time that we had really come together felt our power, and recognized that
we had a right to equality. Two weeks passed. The deadlock continues. The Black Panthers send in cold sandwiches. Others bring in mattresses and a portable
shower. We will no longer allow the
government to oppress disabled individuals. We want the law enforced. We want no more segregation. We will accept no more discussion of segregation. And I would appreciate it if you would stop shaking your head in agreement when I don’t think you understand what we are talking about. His shaking his head in agreement, I really felt symbolized a lot of people shaking their head saying ‘I understand’ when
they didn’t. Tonight 35 million Americans are no longer second class citizens. What is being called a bill of rights for all of this country’s handicapped has finally been signed by HEW Secretary Joseph Califano. This particular point in time demonstrated that we should not be looked at as object of charity and cure. We wanted the rights like everyone else and still do. We are a part of the whole. We don’t want to be excluded anymore, and health care is pivotal to that. No cuts, caps! The America that I love, the America that I defended, we don’t leave people behind. We don’t say that you don’t get a chance at your American dream just because you’re different. No cuts, no caps, to Medicaid. I was flying a mission just north of Baghdad when my Blackhawk was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, which essentially exploded in my lap. It vaporized my right leg on impact and amputated my left and took off the back of my right arm. And I spent the next thirteen months at the hospital learning to live my life all over again. I think I definitely have a significant insight that I can probably safely say that none of my colleagues in the
Senate have. Those home health care workers are everything for someone who may need a little help getting dressed, who may need a little help with medication, getting out the door, so that they can live those full productive lives. About fifty of us got arrested today. We have been here waiting for them to come out. Medicaid paid for my shower today, made it so I was able to eat breakfast, helped me put on my clothes. I breathe because of Medicaid, my ventilator. I move through the world because of a wheelchair
funded by Medicaid. Medicaid touches everything in my life. It makes everything possible. It’s not just health care, but it’s really about my ability to participate in society is because of Medicaid programs.

4 thoughts on “Could Health-Care Cuts Cost Disabled Americans Their Freedom?

  • End programs that spy on American Citizens and save Trillions of Dollars and then create a single payer system for all Americans.

  • Hey, the Atlantic, this report is fantastic, and I'm sharing it with my friends, but please don't call us "The Disabled." That term is dehumanizing and outdated. We are more than our disabilities, we are People With Disabilities. Even Disabled People, which some of us don't like, is still better than "The Disabled." We need our allies to get onboard with things like this. Thank you.

  • I am disabled and If I had to pay for my pills and If I had a full-time job. I would make $600 a month. That a job that $15 an hour. My pill cost 1333.00 a month. More than my rent would be.

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