When we hear “Medicaid” many imagine a lazy, non-working individual, sitting at home watching Jerry Springer and Maury. But the fact is, 70% of Medicaid spending goes towards people with disabilities. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report released at the end of 2008, there were 54.4 million Americans living with at least one disability in a census taken in 2005. This means roughly 1 in 5 people are disabled. Of these 54.4 million, 35 million had a severe disability. These individuals needed assistance in performing activities of daily living (ADL) such as getting into or out of a chair or bed, dressing, bathing and eating. In many cases, assistance is also needed for other activities such as shopping, paying bills, using the telephone and light housework. (Americans with Disabilities, 2005)
Imagine not being able to get yourself to the bathroom or not being able to get yourself out of your own bed. What would you do if you were hungry but could not even make some simple toast for yourself? Are you going to be able to move your mom or dad into your home and care for them if they break a bone or develop dementia? These are some of the things that Medicaid can possibly pay for (or at least a portion of it). Being that it is so many peoples’ lifeline, why is it that when our government needs to tighten up the budget, they look to those who need the most to give the most? Cuts are being made to Medicaid on a regular basis and the health and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens is being threatened.
“Why don’t they just go get a real job” is commonly heard coming from the mouths of the able-bodied clueless. But I am here to tell you that Medicaid serves the type of people who can’t “just go get a real job” because they have disabilities that block them from doing so. In the 2005 census, less than half of the disabled population between the ages of 21 and 64 were employed. (Americans with Disabilities, 2005) With the state our economy is in as of late, I imagine that number to be much higher now.
Among individuals who are disabled between the ages of 25-64, 27.1 percent were in poverty, compared to 9.1 percent for people who had no disability. Of this same group, 57 percent of those who reported having a severe disability were receiving some form of public assistance through government programs such as food stamps or public housing where only 7.3 percent of non-disabled individuals required such assistance. (Americans with Disabilities, 2005) So before we go slashing public assistance, let’s think about the actual people it would be affecting.
Too often the head honchos look at the bottom line and ignore the human beings that make up that line.