June 27, 2017

Public Advocate of New York City Hearing on AHCA Impact

INCLUDEnyc would like to thank New York City’s Public Advocate Letitia James for holding this important hearing on the impact of the United State Senate’s most recent proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act.

We testify today to voice our deep concerns about the proposed cuts to Medicaid and how they will negatively impact hundreds of thousands of young people with disabilities and their families living in New York City.

INCLUDEnyc, a resource center for families with a young person with a disability, has worked with over 350,000 families since our founding 34 years ago. We help families navigate the complex disability support systems so their children can access the crucial services they need to be healthy, meaningfully educated, and included in our community.

A conversion of Medicaid funding as it stands today to the proposed “per capita cap or block grant system” would translate into the loss of millions of dollars in federal money that New York State receives to support New Yorkers with disabilities. It would significantly impact the quality of life for many individuals with disabilities and their families in terms of health care, housing, daily living support, and employment opportunities.

Individuals with disabilities will be directly affected by the drastic decrease in Medicaid-funded services if Congress were to approve the American Health Care Act. These services include: preventative and acute care, nursing, rehabilitative services, respite, medical equipment such as feeding tubes, wheelchairs, assistive technology, transportation, supportive employment, mental health supports, recreational and social activities, and disability-centered long-term care.

In addition, sharp cuts to Medicaid funding has the potential to negatively affect the educational progress of the more than 300,000 students with disabilities, ages 3-21, who receive reimbursable Medicaid-related services at school, such as speech, occupational and physical therapy, counseling, and busing to and from school each day. If New York City is required to provide these services in the absence of Medicaid dollars, there will be fewer funds to support other critical initiatives, such as innovative special education programming, additional teachers and therapists, and professional development for existing staff, all of which significantly contribute to improved student outcomes.

Young people with disabilities need Medicaid-funded services to live fully in the community, rather than being hidden away in institutions. They also need these services to ensure their basic civil and human rights. Thank you.