The American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was recently passed by the House and will be voted on soon by the Senate, will have painful and irreversible impacts on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who rely on the Medicaid program.
Although many people know that Medicaid covers the cost of medical expenses for low-income individuals, they are less aware that it pays for the long-term supports and services that people with I/DD depend on. Medicaid provides more services than I can possibly list, but to name a few, it’s what allows people in New Jersey to live in group homes, attend day programs and receive behavioral supports.
The AHCA would lead to $834 billion in cuts over the next 10 years and I can assure you that people with I/DD and their families living in New Jersey will feel the pain of those cuts. They will definitively see a reduced level of services, and in all likelihood, the elimination of other services entirely. Legislators in Washington need to understand that Medicaid’s home and community-based services are “optional” for states and therefore are likely to be the first things that are cut.
I urge New Jersey’s Congressional delegation to fight back against these proposals as the implementation of these cuts will decimate the services people with I/DD require throughout their lifetime.
ED. NOTE: Joanne Bergin is the incoming board president for The Arc of New Jersey and a resident of Toms River, N.J.