If the Republicans pass their adaptations to the Affordable Care Act, a bill they are calling American Health Care Act, Medicaid could be cut by $880 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This alarms one Colorado advocate for people with disabilities, who fears her state stands to lose $14 billion of that total.
Dr. Patricia Yeager, PhD, is the CEO of The Independence Center, which provides services for the disabled, including home healthcare services, under a number of state waiver programs in 16 Southern Colorado counties. She spoke to the local press this week, with a stern warning that the overall cost of healthcare would skyrocket if Medicaid is cut this deeply.
"The Colorado Health Institute estimates that this will likely cause nearly 600,000 Coloradans to lose their eligibility for Medicaid by 2030," she said. "These people would be left with little to no health care options. Those who cannot afford to pay out of pocket for medical services would be forced to go without care, increasing their risk of injury, illness, and mental health crisis."
In its current form, she continued, the bill converts federal funding for Medicaid to block grants and per capita caps, which will likely result in cutting funds from critical programs (see tables below). While reducing Medicaid, the AHCA would give states more power to minimize health care coverage for vulnerable people. Proposals in the AHCA would also result in an enormous transfer of wealth from low income to high income populations, according to "Disability Rights Maryland."
She fears that funding cuts could mean the loss of Medicaid services and supports for close to 100,000 children, adults and seniors in Colorado who live with disabilities.
"More than others, people with disabilities are likely to have serious health issues and rely on long-term services in order to work and live in the community," Yeager explained. "Without long-term services and support, people with disabilities would have no choice but to move into nursing homes, each person costing the state and federal government an average of $6,900 per month. In addition, many who are caregivers today would have to choose between going to work and caring for their loved one who has a disability.
"For all the risk cutting Medicaid will pose to human lives, this will not solve problems; it will create new ones. People with disabilities will continue to need financial support. Any net savings in federal spending will have to be reallocated to fund additional hospital charges, and the extreme costs of institutionalization."
According to Dr. Yeager, until an alternative solution to Medicaid exists, cutting funding will create drastic consequences in the daily lives of people with disabilities, including those who are able to hold down a job if a home health aide helps them get ready in the morning:
TABLES: Endangered Home and Community Based Services for Adults and Children with Disabilities:
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