To the Editor:
The American Health Care Act (AHCA), or repeal of Obamacare, recently passed the House of Representatives. Many people have complained loudly about this bill. A major concern is that it very negatively impacts people with pre-existing conditions.
The silent and nearly ignored victims of this bill are people with disabilities and frail older adults.
Someone is probably asking what do people with disabilities and older adults have to do with Obamacare? The AHCA reduces the funds for long-term care for these groups by at least $40 billion a year! Medicaid pays for these services, and this help has nothing to do with Obamacare.
Yet the current AHCA says “cut their care.” For older adults, the reduction primarily affects nursing home residents. Medicaid is a major payer.
For people with disabilities, this loss of billions of dollars per year is particularly devastating. Medicaid also pays for their long-term care services and this help is expensive.
People with disabilities have been emerging from the shadows and joining us in our communities. They bag groceries at Jewel, greet you at another store, or celebrate their Special Olympics victories. A reduction of $40 billion imperils these gains.
I am the father of a young person with disabilities. My child has thrived because of current services. She is now employed, is in dance and lives in her own home with two roommates.
The move was wonderful for mom and dad, too. Entering our 70s, we can’t care for our daughter forever, and we had to find a place where her many physical needs could be met for the remainder of her life. A dream had come true, but the AHCA gravely threatens this progress!
At a question-and-answer session on April 18, Congressman Randy Hultgren, who voted for the AHCA, recommended everyone write letters. It was better than phone calls or emails.
I wrote Hultgren, and my daughter, her mother and I met him on May 9. We talked about Medicaid, long-term care and the terrible consequences of the AHCA for people with disabilities. He was very nice, and expressed that people with disabilities were his priority.
Please write your representative and ask him or her to be certain that every, final AHCA provision does no harm. In our case I am sure that Congressman Hultgren will make certain that the final AHCA bill retains Medicaid funds at the “current level,” both now and for the foreseeable future.