Medicaid recipients fear cuts from GOP healthcare plan

Sarah Schulte Image
Thursday, March 23, 2017
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David Gayes, 31, who has cerebral palsy, worries that the Republican healthcare plan will result in cuts to Medicaid.

A day before Congress votes on the GOP healthcare plan, some say that thousands of people with disabilities on Medicaid in Illinois would have their independence threatened.

David Gayes, 31, who has cerebral palsy, is among them. He works part-time for a non-profit, but Medicaid pays for a caregiver to help with his basic needs.

"I need a caregiver to help me get out of bed in the morning, bathing and toileting," Gayes said.

Gayes and his mother joined several others Wednesday at Access Living in Chicago's River North neighborhood who want lawmakers to vote against the American Health Care Act, the Republican's replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

According to a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report, $880 billion would be stripped from state Medicaid programs if the GOP legislation is passed.

Medicaid serves over 300,000 children and adults with disabilities in Illinois.

"How do you suppose we get to use wheelchairs that we need? It's Medicaid. How to do suppose we pay people to get us out of bed in the morning? It's Medicaid. Without it, we wouldn't be sitting here today," said Medicaid recipient Mike Ervin.

The fear for many here is without homecare and community services, they will wind up in a nursing home which is something that happened to Jimmy Yarborough for several years.

"You get very little assistance because they have so many people to take care of," said Yarbrough, a Medicaid recipient.

Gayes hopes someday his part-time job becomes full-time, but he said that won't happen if he doesn't get help to get out of bed in the morning.

"Medicaid allows me to work and contribute, to society as a taxpayer and really accomplish my life goals," Gayes said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has voiced his concerns about the amount of Medicaid funding Illinois may lose under the plan.

During a visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, President Donald Trump strongly pushing the plan. White House Spokesman Sean Spicer said Wednesday that there is no Plan B.

But the numbers tell a different story. There are currently 430 members in the House of Representatives - five seats are currently vacant - and they need 216 votes to pass the law. ABC News reports that Wednesday night they are seven votes short. Holdouts are holding strong.

"The opposition is still strong. They don't have the votes to do this tomorrow," said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Kentucky).

Democrats marked the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act Wednesday, demanding that Congress protect that care extended to so many Americans.