The Senate GOP's effort to reform health care law is being heavily dissected by the media. Unfortunately, that isn't good news for Republicans in Washington, D.C., as we have recently learned the bill could jeopardize federal-backed care for children with disabilities.
According to Raw Story, if the GOP bill is signed into law, Medicaid spending, which relies on federal money, should drop 35 percent by 2036. As a result, states would have to pick up the bill for certain medical costs that are now often covered by Medicaid. But if they are incapable or unwilling to do so, then children with disabilities would suffer as many of the services they rely on would be too costly for parents.
In many cases, experts suggest, families would have to institutionalize their children, sending them to "pediatric nursing homes," instead of getting the help they need to keep their children at home.
“Absent those supports paid for by Medicaid, the only option many families will have is institutionalization,” Meg Comeau, researcher at the Boston University School of Public Health’s Catalyst Center said. “You’ll see kids going into pediatric nursing homes, kids not being able to be discharged from hospitals.”
The problem is that with a weaker Medicaid, states may not be able to cover expenses that the program has been notorious for covering, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapies, as well as nurses at home or in school. As a result, parents with meager means may not be able to afford the help they need to keep their special needs children with them.
While the new GOP health care bill does maintain protections for special needs children who fall under the “disabled” category, about 1.2 million kids across America, and 3-4 million others who aren't necessarily disabled, would be left at the mercy of state-backed health care programs. In other words, “potential consequences could be devastating,” according to Sara Bachman, researcher at the Catalyst Center.
“States on their own are quite variable on the ability to support the services kids need. The federal participation in the Medicaid program is in an essential underpinning. States are really going to be in a pickle,” she said.
Unless states are able to come up with a solution that would make the federal funding currently available thanks to Medicaid superfluous, families in the low-income bracket may have to see their children suffer a great deal as they are sent away. It doesn't take much to figure out that the institutionalization of these kids could end up devastating entire families.
Perhaps, if this piece of news is more broadly dissected and shared nationwide, it could end up forcing many lawmakers to consider their support for the Senate GOP health care bill.