Medicaid in Wisconsin: “Disability Is Not Going Away” (Video)

The candidates are making their closing argument as Election Day comes upon us. My own closing argument starts with Paul Krugman, and culminates in a video.

In his Oct. 28 NY Times column, Medicaid on the Ballot, Krugman says:

So this election is, to an important degree, really about Medicaid. And this, in turn, means that you need to know something more about the program….

…more than nine million Americans benefit from both Medicare and Medicaid, and elderly or disabled beneficiaries account for the majority of Medicaid’s costs.

To get a sense of what he means by that, take a look at the immense burgundy slice of the pie chart below (from The Incidental Economist blog). That’s the portion of Medicaid that goes to support people with disabilities.

Now take a look at what happens to Medicaid spending under President Obama’s plan (climbing blue dashed line) and under the Romney/Ryan plan (plummeting red dashed line.) [Again from the Incidental Economist]

And now, I’m asking you to take four minutes of your day and listen to what people from Wisconsin, people with disabilities and their family members, have to say about Medicaid and the Romney/Ryan plan. It’s an honor to have been among the interviewees.

Wisconsinites with Disabilities Respond to the Ryan Plan to cut Medicaid

Here is a sampling of what we had to say in the video, which was produced for the new organization Imperfect Union:

We’re scared spitless. This is our daughter’s future that we’re talking about!

If there isn’t someone at Will’s house to help him eat, he cannot eat. So when you think about how to make a cut to something like that, there’s not a lot of wiggle room.

If Ben did not have community supports that Medicaid pays for, Ben would be living in an institution.

Some of these cuts would keep us from going to work. That’s — this is real contradictory.

If we didn’t have these caregivers… where are all these disabled people going to go?

We’re not just takers of community services.

Disability is not going away. It’s going to be here. For a lifetime.

All human beings have dignity and worth. And sometimes, people forget about that.

We keep hearing about the “fiscal cliff.” And we’re… we’re talking about pushing individuals off that fiscal cliff. It’s not just dollars. It’s people.

People with disabilities in Wisconsin are already taking a hit from the assaults on Medicaid that Governor Scott Walker brought to our state, beginning with the so-called “Budget Repair Bill” that brought 100,000 people into the streets. It wasn’t just about collective bargaining; the bill also went after Medicaid in a big way, under-noticed but part of a terrible pattern that has been playing out in Wisconsin ever since. There have been freezes. There has been deadly privatization. There have been destructive rate cuts.

All of this will have been a walk in the park in comparison to what is coming down the pike if Romney and Ryan are elected.

Disability is not going away. But the Medicaid support that is so crucial to people with disabilities and their families is in grave danger.

Vote Rob Zerban.

Vote Tammy Baldwin.

Vote Obama/Biden.

(A version of this post also appeared at Daily Kos.)


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