Why the Proposed Cuts to Medicaid Scare Me as a Young Adult with Disabilities

July 13, 2017 | Lauren Berglund, 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

Chances are if you turn on the news or scroll through your Facebook feed you will see some type of post about the cuts to Medicaid proposed by Congress. The post may include footage of disabled people being forcibly removed by police from politicians’ offices or live streams showing people protesting and chanting. You may scroll by these posts and not think twice, but to the nearly 57 million, or 1 in 5, Americans living with a disability these proposed changes are impossible to ignore.

Many may believe that Medicaid is just for those living in poverty, but to the 75 million individuals enrolled in Medicaid and related programs it is so much more. During the 2010 census, 5 million non-institutionalized adults reported they were unable to complete at least one activity of daily living (such as getting around inside the home, bathing, dressing, and eating) without assistance. Another 12 million individuals reported being unable to complete one or more instrumental activities of daily living without assistance. These activities included doing housework, using the phone, and preparing meals.

You may be thinking, “what do these numbers have to do with the proposed Medicaid cuts?” Well, many of those 17 million adults who require assistance to live independently receive that assistance through Medicaid-funded programs. For millions of adults with disabilities and complex medical conditions Medicaid means independence. It means freedom from institutions and hospitals. It means receiving the care and assistance needed to achieve gainful employment and to be a contributing member of society. And to some, Medicaid means the ability to live.

For many of us living with disabilities Medicaid provides us the ability to receive the healthcare services we need to not only survive, but thrive. As a disabled college student Medicaid allows me to access the prescription medications and health care services I need to be able to attend class every day. Without Medicaid, I wouldn’t be able to afford the services that allow me to pursue a post-secondary degree and hopefully a lifelong career. To my fellow college students with disabilities, Medicaid means being able to live in the dorms like our able-bodied peers with the help of a nurse or personal care attendant. Medicaid means being able to fund the power wheelchair that allows my friend to get from class to class and go to law school.

The next time you see a post on your newsfeed about Medicaid please take a second to think about how those purposed cuts affect your friends, neighbors, and people with disabilities.


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Lauren Berglund is a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern and a student at Iowa State University. This summer she is interning with The Arc.

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