Letter to The Oregonian: People with disabilities lose out in the ACA replacement bill

The Oregonian published a letter from Bob on March 17.

Congress is working quickly to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. There has been wide coverage of the millions of people who will lose health care when the Medicaid expansion population is eliminated. It is equally important, however, to focus on the deep cuts that are slated for those who keep Medicaid coverage.

Many seniors and people with disabilities – individuals and families across Oregon — rely on our local Medicaid program, the Oregon Health Plan.  It provides funds for home and community based services & supports that allow our most vulnerable neighbors to stay in their homes, or live independently.  The federal government pays about two thirds of the costs for these services and supports.

Under the ACA replacement bill, the Medicaid program will be capped in 2020 at the rate paid by the federal government in 2016. The federal match for home and community-based services will be immediately cut by 6 percent.  There is no money in the state budget to replace these funding losses. This means devastating cuts to existing services and supports that allow a person to stay in their home.  Instead, we will see wait lists and unnecessary placements in nursing homes and other institutions.

People with disabilities have long fought for the right to live in the community. The replacement bill will undermine that right and erode our fellow Oregonians’ independence and dignity.

Bob Joondeph, Southwest Portland

The author is executive director of Disability Rights Oregon

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