My independence would not be possible without Medicaid as it now is available. Today, I am back in school, pursuing a Masters of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Like millions of other people across the country, disabled, non-disabled, and children, I rely on Medicaid for basic doctor visits, visits with specialists, and wheelchair and equipment repair (known as Durable Medical Equipment). The innovation and flexibility of Medicaid allows me to pursue opportunities to improve my life. It also allows states like Illinois to tap into incentive programs that help thousands of other people with disabilities transition from nursing homes into their own apartments in the community. Independent in their own homes, people with disabilities have a chance to contribute to their communities in a way that was impossible when they were institutionalized. Block Grants would put an end to Medicaid Innovation and Flexibility, would lock the door for thousands of people who want to get out of nursing homes (which cost much more money than services in the community), and would cap services for people like me.
I am 32 years old now. It’s been 10 years since I became disabled. I spent years working my butt off and struggling to regain my independence. Block grants can potentially make my years of hard work for nothing. We need to keep Medicaid strong and efficient as it is now, not strangle it and in so doing suffocating the independence of millions of people.