Medicaid is much more than health insurance for low-income Americans. Medicaid beneficiaries rely on the program to survive. I am one of the millions of Medicaid beneficiaries in the United States. Medicaid allows me to live independently in my apartment. Having Cerebral Palsy means that I require help with activities of daily living, including showering, toileting, and getting dressed.
Medicaid allows me not to be living in a nursing home. This in turn saves Massachusetts thousands of dollars a year. A semi-private room in a nursing home costs roughly $7,756 a month. A private room costs roughly $8,821 a month. This adds up to $93,072 and $105,852, annually.
Without Medicaid, I wouldn’t have personal care assistants. For me, PCAs are critical to living independently. My PCAs allow me to get out of bed in the morning and take showers. Everyday tasks like these are not optional. Imagine if a person couldn’t shower or bathe on a regular basis. Non-disabled people cannot go long periods of time without being bathed. It’s no different for people with disabilities. PCAs also take me to medical appointments, and the grocery store.
When I eventually get a job, I’ll rely on my PCAs to take me to work. If I didn’t have an accessible van, I’d have to rely on paratransit service. During a workday, my PCA will also have to help me use the restroom. I couldn’t work full time without the help of a PCA. In fact this is one of the reasons I am struggling to find work right now. Employers aren’t obligated to allow a PCA in the workplace. The problem is, I’ll be unemployed forever if this policy doesn’t change. I shouldn’t be denied the opportunity to work for a living because I can’t use the bathroom on my own.
Needing help with activities of daily living doesn’t mean that someone with a disability can’t work. I am capable of working. I’ll just need accommodations. Medicaid also needs to eliminate its income and asset limits so that disabled people like me can work and keep Medicaid coverage.
I am under the age of 26, which means I am covered by my mom’s health insurance. Once I age out of private health insurance, Medicaid will be my only health insurance coverage. After age 26, I’ll rely on Medicaid even more than I do now.
I don’t have thousands of dollars to pay for a walker, AFOs, PCA services, and a power wheelchair out of pocket. My PCA services alone cost over $50,000 a year. My power wheelchair costs over $20,000. I would go bankrupt without Medicaid. Most Americans couldn’t afford these costs on their own.
If I were to lose Medicaid coverage it would be devastating for me. I would face the possibility of living in a nursing home, and not having an independent lifestyle. I would also lose access to my adaptive equipment that allows me to move around. Losing Medicaid could mean that I’d be bedridden instead of living life to the fullest. Without Medicaid, life as I know it could be gone in an instant.
Parker, Tim. “The Median Cost of a Nursing Home.” The Balance, The Balance, 25 Oct. 2021, https://www.thebalance.com/average-cost-of-a-nursing-home-4177589.