By Joyce Humble, MSSW
At the age of 57, I found myself retired, living in Johnson City, a small, conservative town west of Austin, and stunned by the result of the last election. So I did what any mature woman in this situation would do: I joined the resistance. I belong to an organization that specifically addresses legislation at the federal level, so we have been consumed of late with the various versions of the legislation that is intended to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The latest news is that the score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on the new Senate version will be released today and that a vote could take place this week. The Republicans are in full defensive mode, and our vice president, Mike Pence, just posted this on Twitter:
“Let me be clear: The Senate health-care bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society.”
Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. According to the report from the CBO on the previous version of the Senate healthcare bill, Medicaid would be cut by 26% within 10 years and by 35% within 20 years. We hear that the new version will include even more drastic cuts.
In Texas, 70% of Medicaid recipients are children. The rest are adults with disabilities, pregnant women, and our elders residing in long-term care facilities. Nationwide, Medicaid provides medical care and other services for 30% of adults with disabilities, 60% of children with disabilities, and 64% of our elders residing in long-term care facilities.
To give you an idea of the impact on my friends and neighbors, I'd like to share the stories of three families and how Medicaid helps them.
The first story is about a family in Johnson City raising their special needs grandchild. This little girl has multiple intellectual and physical disabilities. Since her birth, her medical needs have been supported by Medicaid. Today, Medicaid pays for doctor's visits, prescriptions, plus physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Medicaid helps fund special education programs at her elementary school. The ongoing support she will need as an adult is currently provided by Medicaid programs for adults with disabilities.
The second is about a friend in San Antonio, who has a 35-year-old daughter with a rare genetic disorder. She is blind and has a number of chronic health issues. Like 75,000 other adults with disabilities in Texas, she lives an independent life in a Medicaid-funded group home. She has a job and does volunteer work. Her medical care, transportation, and other services are provided by Medicaid.
The third is about my own family. My mother-in-law had Alzheimer's disease and required specialized care during the last several years of her life. Medicaid paid for her care in one of the best facilities in Central Texas, so she received appropriate and competent care. The cost of the facility was $8000/month, which we would not have been able to afford.
I believe we are defined by how we treat our most vulnerable. My opinion: the Republican healthcare plan is not what Texas or America is about.
Will Francis, LMSW
Government Relations Director,
National Association of Social Workers,
Cossy Hough, LCSW
Clinical Assistant Professor, The University of Texas at Austin,
School of Social Work
Anna Stelter, LMSW, MPH
Health Policy Analyst
Texas Health Institute
Alison Mohr Boleware, MSSW
Mental Health Policy,