Prior to the July 4th Congressional break, the Senate is poised to take up and vote on the House American Health Care Act with its draconian cut to the long term care program under Medicaid. In Colorado, this program serves close to 100,000 children and adults with significant disabilities and seniors, all of whom would be living in an institution such as a nursing home otherwise. This program also pays for family members or community members to take care of their loved one with a disability at home. This is far less expensive than a nursing home bed. In El Paso County there are not many Medicaid Nursing Home beds to begin with, but the Federal/State cost sharing program pays $6900 a month PER PERSON to have that bed. Living at home with the long term care program often has a savings of $44,000 per year on average and people are far happier living with their families and friends, going to school, work or volunteering rather than laying in a nursing home bed waiting to die. As a country and a state, we cannot afford to put children, adults and seniors with significant disabilities into the most expensive and generally unwanted care. Medicaid Home and Community Based Services has for the last 35 years helped keep or move people with disabilities in the community to live productive lives. For our community, it has been the path toward living an independent life.

In the absence of transparency, one has to assume the worst. Given that the Senate has not shared any details about its version of the healthcare bill and does not intend to until just before the vote, it appears that Congress has just become the dictator of America. The Medicaid Caps/Cuts for Long Term Services are hardly discussed in the heady race to get rid of health care for the those in need. However, the fallout from cutting these services are severe.

The irony of this is that these Medicaid Long Term Services caps/cuts have nothing to do with saving money in Healthcare. It appears that these funds are being cut to support other priorities. If this policy change bothers you or effects a family member, call or email Senator Cory Gardner. His vote could be the vote that saves people with significant disabilities from moving into a nursing home against their will, with more expense, and to their detriment.

Patricia Yeager
CEO, The Independence Center