Religious groups including the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, American Baptist Churches USA, Alliance of Baptists, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and Progressive National Baptist Convention say the Senate replacement bill for Obamacare is bad news for people with disabilities.
Twenty-four members of the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Collaborative hand-delivered a letter to senators June 27 opposing the Better Care Reconciliation Act in its current form. While the bill makes changes to the American Health Care Act, a counterpoint measure already passed by the House, both bills would phase out money that the federal government has provided to states as an incentive to expand eligibility for Medicaid.
“Medicaid is one of the most important programs for people with disabilities, allowing them to live in their community and access the medical care they need,” coalition members said. “Medicaid provides coverage for over 10 million individuals with disabilities, which is why any cut to the program is a source of fear for our community.”
The House proposal to eliminate the Medicaid expansion and institute a cap on the amount the states could receive from the federal government for each person they enroll would cause 14 million people around the country to lose their Medicaid coverage within the decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Coalition members said the Senate version would have essentially the same impact, making services such as in-home nursing and specialized care unaffordable for millions of people.
“Such services grant individuals the independence that is the hallmark of our country’s values, and allow people to live in their own homes instead of nursing homes or institutions,” the letter said. “Persons with disabilities have fought for decades to receive the medical and other support that should be a right, and the Better Care Reconciliation Act would eliminate many years of progress.”
The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Collaborative is a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities that mobilizes the religious community to take action on disability policy with Congress, the president and administration and society at large
“As people of faith, we believe all people are entitled to receive the medical treatment they need,” the letter said. “We are compelled to ensure that this is a reality for individuals with disabilities.”
“Through our faith traditions, we learn to see the Divine image in every person,” the letter continued. “Disabilities affect all people — of all races, genders, incomes, ages, and religions — and nearly one in five Americans live with some form of a disability.”
“Our religious traditions leave no doubt that providing for the health and dignity of people is among the most important duties of a just society,” the signers declared. “We cannot abide the harm that the proposed cuts to Medicaid would exact on millions in our communities.”
Coalition members acknowledged imperfections in the Affordable Care Act and offered to work, with legislators to improve the law. They just asked “that people with disabilities be given a seat at the table for any decisions that would affect them so dramatically.”