As this article is being written, the Senate Republicans are drafting a bill behind closed doors that could repeal The Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Healthcare Act. The bill, as it currently stands after being passed through the House, would convert the current Medicaid expansion into “block grants,” shifting program costs over to the states. This provision has the potential to dramatically impact New Jersey’s overall budget and its services for people with disabilities and special needs. We would like to address this particular portion of the bill and explain how it would negatively impact the disability community here in New Jersey.
What kinds of services?
Here in New Jersey, we offer a broad range of services that support people with disabilities to live full and productive lives. The types of services offered are based on an individual’s goals and level of need. This includes everything from employment training and transportation to hiring staff to help an individual with personal hygiene and daily living activities. Organizations like Easterseals rely on funding from Medicaid to provide these services. Without them, many adults with disabilities will lack the ability to achieve life goals such as holding down a job or living independently. Beyond even that, without assistance, it falls entirely on the families & caregivers to take the full responsibility for the care of their loved one. The high level of attention and care some individuals require can cause incredible strain on the caregiver, which is not healthy for anyone involved.
Republican, Democrat, Independent – it doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you are on because disability does not know politics. The United States was founded on the basic principle that all people are created equal and deserve the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The aforementioned services help make that governing statement a reality. How can you have liberty if you are unable to leave your own house? How can you pursue happiness if you are never given an opportunity to identify and realize your personal goals? How can one live when you lack the ability to take life-saving medications? That’s why Easterseals is here. That’s why we do what we do, but we can’t do it alone. We are lucky enough to work with generous donors and sponsors, but they only help us to close the gaps where state funding comes up short. If the Medicaid expansion were to be rolled back, those gaps only become wider and people in need will start to slip through the cracks.
Learn more about Medicaid from our Medicaid Fact Sheet.
What can YOU do to help?
We encourage you to use our Action Alert system that includes a template to e-mail your local representatives and encourage them to fight the rollback of the Medicaid expansion. Make sure they know how important that funding is to people with disabilities and special needs, all throughout their district.
Also, you can sign our petition to let Senate know how vital health services are to people with disabilities and their families.
Even though you may not be directly affected by disability issues, you never know when that may change. A loved one may become sick, a child may experience complications at birth, or may be diagnosed with a serious mental illness later in life – if this were to happen, you will certainly want to have access to robust disability services in your state. Whatsoever the case may be, we ask you to consider the consequences of cutting Medicaid.
We have made such amazing process as a society and should continue the journey forward, not back. Thank you for reading and if you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below.
Also: See our letter to the Senate stating our opposition to the proposal contained in the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to cap federal funding for Medicaid.