Guest column: Medicaid rally on Monday

Join us for a rally for Medicaid and the children, seniors, people with disabilities and families who need Medicaid to get by, writes Christine Pisani.

Idahoans with disabilities and their families are frustrated and disappointed by Rep. Mike Simpson’s vote in favor of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Congressman Simpson is one of 217 lawmakers who passed the AHCA, a policy that makes deep cuts to Medicaid while eliminating assurances of health coverage for people with disabilities and the families that support them.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that almost $900 billion would be eliminated from Medicaid nationwide over a 10 year period. These actions of the U.S. House of Representatives strike at the heart of the Medicaid program, a crucial source of health and support services for people with disabilities and their families. And the proposed restructure of the Medicaid program digs into the very framework of the Medicaid program which has been in place since 1965, well before anyone heard of Obamacare. The Administration’s budget released last week called for even deeper cuts to programs and services for people with disabilities.

Simpson, Idaho’s Second Congressional District Representative, recently told a Boise crowd that if he had believed the AHCA would really become law, he would not have voted for it. The Idaho Statesman quoted him saying, “There are problems with it.”

We agree that there are serious problems with it. For the children, seniors, people with disabilities and families in Eastern Idaho who need Medicaid to get by on a daily basis, those cuts are indeed a problem. Debra Parsons, Chair of the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities (ICDD) summed it up well in a video of seven Eastern Idahoans that the ICDD produced. “It is about surviving. Without Medicaid, some folks will pass away…There is not a lot of grey area here. It is pretty black and white.” You can view more of Debra as well as others on this video called “Idahoans Message to Lawmakers” posted on the Medicaid Matters in Idaho Facebook Page.

As these stark Medicaid policy issues pass to Senators Crapo and Risch, the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities is calling on the entire Idaho Delegation to recognize the problems with the AHCA and to stand up for people with disabilities, because Medicaid Matters for Idaho’s disability community.

The ICDD is sponsoring a rally and press conference on Monday, June 5, 2017, at 11 A.M. outside Congressman Simpson’s and Senator Crapo’s Idaho Falls offices at 410 Memorial Drive in Idaho Falls.

Eastern Idahoans with disabilities, their families and supporters will be arriving from Pocatello, Blackfoot, Driggs, Shelly, Rexburg and Idaho Falls to ask Idaho’s delegation to Congress to take a stand. We are asking them to publicly support Idaho’s community of people with disabilities and their needs for the critical health and support services that only Medicaid provides. We want assurances that insurance companies will not be given the ability to price people out who have pre-existing conditions. We hope to impress upon Idaho’s delegation that the flexibility given to states explained in the ACHA is a false statement, when almost $900 billion being proposed is removed from the Medicaid program.

Pisani is the executive director of the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities.