What’s Wrong Wednesday: Why Americans With Disabilities Fear Medicaid Cuts
Medicaid, which is also called Medical Assistance or MA, is a household term for many people with disabilities and their families. Nationally, over 10 Million people with disabilities utilize Medicaid to help them be independent and stay in the community. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide health and long-term care coverage to more than more than 93,000 low-income children, pregnant women, adults, seniors, and people with disabilities in North Dakota; and 1.0 million low-income children, pregnant women, adults, seniors, and people with disabilities in Minnesota.
In North Dakota 1 in 14 adults under the age of 65 are covered by Medicaid, 1 in 4 children, 1 in 3 people with disabilities, and 1 in 2 nursing home residents. In Minnesota 1 in 8 adults under 65 are covered by Medicaid, 1 in 4 children, 1 in 2 adults with disabilities, and 1 in 2 nursing home residents. (Kaiser Family Foundation)
Proposals at the Federal level would cut Medicaid by 25% in the first 10 years, and 33% within 20 years. There is simply no way to make this level of reduction without harming people with disabilities’ ability to live in the community.
Medicaid provides far beyond hospital care and doctor visits. Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) is actually optional under Medicaid for states. When steep reductions to Medicaid are made at the Federal level, states will be required to make tough decisions about rate reductions to services, changing eligibility, or limiting services that are provided. HCBS is one of the largest areas of spending in Medical Assistance, and due to the optional nature of it, will be very vulnerable when cuts are made. Right now, more than 80 percent of Medicaid’s budget funds health care for the disabled, elderly, and children. If Medicaid is cut or capped, we know that home and community-based services will be the first to go, and that will leave many people with disabilities unable to live in the community. It will force many people with disabilities back into nursing homes.
(image description: a male is using a wheelchair in this bedroom.)