New bill would cut funds for special education services
By now, most of us have heard the bad news about the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was passed yesterday by the House of Representatives. That news is that, for the most part, if you’re sick you will longer be able to afford to get better. Sorry, sick people! Looks like the healthy wealthies need their flu shots and Viagra more than you need your chemo. But there’s another group of people who would be made to suffer if this bill becomes law, and that is millions of children who require special education services.
Most of us don’t think about education when we think about healthcare, but, in fact, Medicaid is what pays for most of our schools’ special education services and, under the AHCA, that program would be cut by $880 billion (or 25%) over ten years. An article in The New York Times exposing this issue explained that proposed cuts would also “impose a ‘per-capita cap’ on funding for certain groups of people, such as children and the elderly — a dramatic change that would convert Medicaid from an entitlement designed to cover any costs incurred to a more limited program.”
Boy, our government really understands us, doesn’t it? It knows that we don’t want our government interfering in our lives to take care of us and our children — no, we want to be left alone to scavenge herbs from the forest floor and pray away our cancers like real Americans. And when it comes to kids with disabilities, clearly we’ve been spoiling them with physical therapists, feeding tubes, and preventative care for way too long.
America: Where your problem is your problem and not my problem because I’m going to live forever and you’re not.
Right now, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (you know, that federal law that our new Secretary of Education doesn’t quite understand or support) school districts are required to provide quality services to children with disabilities. In order to do that, districts rely on Medicaid reimbursements to cover part of the cost. What this bill does is take healthcare out of the hands of the federal government and give it to the states which, as The New York Times explains, “would no longer have to consider schools eligible Medicaid providers, meaning they would not be entitled to reimbursements.”
So states would still be required to provide services to vulnerable children, but they would no longer be able to afford to do so, and that seems like a pickle…a rotten, immoral, self-serving, haunted pickle.
Remember that for many children with disabilities, their school is the only place they’re able to get services. In a letter to legislators on Tuesday, the Save Medicaid in School Coalition wrote: “School-based Medicaid programs serve as a lifeline to children who can’t access critical health care and health services outside of their school…The projected loss of $880 billion in federal Medicaid dollars will compel States to ration health care for children.”
This bill is a nightmare — it is a heartless, Darwinian approach to allocating health services to the citizens of this country. By making it impossible for schools to provide adequate services to children with disabilities, we are effectively abandoning them. To quote former vice president Hubert Humphrey: “It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
If that is the moral test of a government, then we are about to fail.