Clash of Concepts

November 15 – Guess

I guess I don’t have much to complain about when I consider obstacles that must be overcome by the people with whom I spend my days.

For the past 15 months, I’ve opened my eyes each morning and thought about how to tell the stories of people with developmental disabilities. I’ve wondered and worried about the best ways to advocate for them through social media and in print publications. Those 15 months have been filled with learning more than teaching, showing more than telling, listening more than talking.

I love the work I do, and I guess my only regret is being just one person with insufficient time and resources to truly make the impact I want.

I guess I do as much as I can, but I want to do more.

If only our country’s leaders wanted to do the same.

Instead, legislators are willing to ignore the struggles and obstacles of people with disabilities—or simply not educate themselves at all on the topic—to consider cutting funding of Medicaid, which, among other purposes, helps people with disabilities live independently in their communities. While the richest would get tax cuts in the proposed tax bill, the country’s most vulnerable citizens would have the quality of their daily lives, friendships, jobs and homes jeopardized.

The rhetoric would make you believe that only people who are lazy are on Medicaid. An article by Consumer Reports in June revealed the following statistics:

• More than 70 million Americans—1 in 5 people—receive Medicaid funding.
• One-quarter of Medicaid recipients are people who are elderly or have disabilities.
• About half of Medicaid enrollees are children, many with disabilities.
• Six in 10 adults without disabilities who receive Medicaid have a job.
• Seventy-eight percent of Medicaid recipients live with at least one person working full-time, and many of those who don’t work are caregivers for other people.

Our senators and representatives need to remember they were elected to serve ALL of their constituents, not just those who drop thousands of dollars into their coffers. They must realize that taking away Medicaid-funded supports could potentially force self-sufficient families to seek public assistance. They need to understand that families depend on services funded by Medicaid, because it allows parents to work outside the home without worry that their loved ones don’t have care they need. Those same supports enable people with disabilities to hold jobs, pursue dreams, have social lives and live more fully in their communities.

But, do legislators care?

If they vote on any legislation that cuts Medicaid, then I guess not.

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