Sep 22, 2011

Disability-rights advocates protest Obama’s proposed Medicaid cuts

Disability-rights advocates protest Obama’s proposed Medicaid cuts
By Debbie Siegelbaum - 09/21/11 01:53 PM ET

Hundreds of disability-rights advocates congregated on the West Lawn of the Capitol on Wednesday to protest billions of dollars in proposed cuts to Medicaid.

“States are cutting Medicaid, and federal cuts on top of state cuts would be ... catastrophic,” said protester Jessica Sadowsky of Maryland.

President Obama proposed a major debt-reduction plan earlier this week designed to cut more than $3 trillion over the next decade. An estimated $580 billion would be saved through cuts to entitlement programs.

Medicaid, a healthcare program for the poor that is administered by states, was singled out for a $73 billion decrease. Medicare could be hit even harder, with a proposed $248 billion cut.

Protesters of the plan, many themselves with disabilities, demanded that Congress maintain funding for those in need.

“I’d just like to see absolutely no cuts. You’re taking from the poor, the disabled and seniors — how much more can they take?” asked Carol Jones, from Georgia. “I think that they have to look in another direction; maybe cut some of their unnecessary spending.”

“All Medicare matters. … These people can’t afford that,” she added, motioning to her fellow protesters. “They’re living minimally now; any more cuts would really be astronomical for them.”

More than 90 national advocacy groups — including AARP and the American Association of People with Disabilities — sponsored the rally, one of several to be conducted across the country. Many protesters and advocacy groups planned to visit lawmakers’ offices after the event to further communicate their message.

For Arlington, Va., resident Caroline Levy, whose five-year-old son Adam suffers from cognitive and physical disabilities, Medicaid is a necessary government expenditure.

“My motto about Medicaid is that fair isn’t when everybody gets the same thing,” she said. “Fair is when everybody gets what they need.”