Changes in Washington Raise Concerns for People with Disabilities
NEW YORK – Advocates for people with disabilities say they're worried about them losing health coverage and other necessities as power shifts in Washington.
Though Republicans in Congress have voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law has survived, so far.
Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, is concerned that when Donald Trump takes office in January, parts of the ACA, including the expansion of Medicaid and subsidies for low-income people, might be eliminated.
"This could return us to the days when people who have disabilities – have serious illnesses, chronic health conditions – will no longer be able to afford to go to the doctor," she states.
Citing sharp rises in insurance premiums, opponents of the ACA say the mandatory coverage is unaffordable for many Americans. But government officials say for most, cost increases will be offset by tax credits.
Trump now says he may keep some parts of the ACA. But Dooha points out there are many provisions of the law that most people don't know about.
One is the Balancing Incentives Program that increases access to home and community-based services as an alternative to institutional care.
"Right now in New York state, a program to help people with disabilities and seniors is about to roll out, and that program is funded by the Balancing Incentives Program," Dooha points out.
Dooha is also concerned that the Americans with Disabilities Act could be weakened, or that under new leadership, the Justice Department may not make enforcing it a priority.
She says people with disabilities, their family members, health care providers and others are sending a clear message to lawmakers in Washington.
"We are part of the community, and we insist that they consider our needs when they hear proposals to change these law or eliminate them," she stresses.