It’s quite clear that the GOP-led legislature in Texas doesn’t care about children with disabilities. Last December, Texas lawmakers passed a budget that cut $350 million in funding for speech, occupational, and physical therapy reimbursements. The particularly cruel budget cut, which has left children with disabilities lacking access to critical care, provides a preview what would happen if the Senate’s proposed health care bill passed.
The issue is twofold: children who need the care can no longer pay for the services and therapists who provide the care can no longer operate without patients. Any sane person might ask: Doesn’t it seem like bad politics to punish the most vulnerable of the population? Apparently not. After pledging to rescind the budget cut (originally voted on in 2015), Republican lawmakers decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea after all.
This could very well become the new norm. To exemplify this horror, the AP interviewed Stacey English about her daughter’s genetic disease and inability to gain care because of the cuts. Meredith Hoffman writes:
Stacey English has modest desires for her 7-year-old daughter Addison: Be able to eat without gagging and move both her arms. But since Addison’s occupational therapist went out of business this winter, the child with a rare genetic disorder has regressed in her fight to do even that much.
Following up with another harrowing anecdote, Hoffman quotes the Texas Association of Homecare’s president Rachel Hammon:
Hammon said Texas has no accurate way of tracking children deprived of services, calling them “the hidden victims” in the Medicaid cuts. Children relying on home care therapists have the most severe disabilities, and those agencies have been hit hardest, she said.
“These are children who may have been born prematurely and who can’t eat because they were fed through tubes as a baby and if your swallowing reflex is interrupted you have to have therapy to relearn that.”
Texas’s Medicaid cut wouldn’t be much different from the GOP’s bill; except the GOP’s bill would affect more people. Roughly 22 million, actually. People with disabilities would undoubtedly suffer the most. As one protester who participated in a “die-in” at Mitch McConnell’s office on Wednesday said: “Our lives and liberties shouldn’t be stolen to give a tax break to the wealthy.”