There's a really important opinion piece in today's New York Times. Written by Mike Ervin -- a disability rights activist who's wheelchair bound and reliant on a Medicaid waiver that finances the care he needs to get out of bed, get washed, cook his meals, do it laundry -- the piece explains the fear people who are dependent on state and federal health programs feel during this incessant budget cutting that threatens to force them all into institutions. For people with disabilities who are provided the services they need to be productive, earn a living, the budget cutting -- which inevitably seems to target the poor, the sick, the disabled -- causes great fear. What if, they ask, the next round of budget cuts ends my ability to remain in the community, in my own home, doing work I care about? The answer? It's not like nursing home care is cheaper. So why anybody thinks that cutting these programs is smart budget policy -- not to mention social policy -- is beyond me.
Every once in awhile I get a phone call from someone who's lost their lifeline to budget cuts. They turn to me to come up with an alternative. Well, I can tell you right now -- if you are counting on the private sector to provide the support that federal, state and local governments have cut, you're going to be disappointed. Don't expect me to have answers when your elected officials have done nothing but eliminate whatever answers used to exist. And don't aim your righteous anger at me. If the programs don't exist, I can't find them for you. Instead, contact your state and federal legislators -- those who voted to take away the services you needed in order to function. That's where the blame lies.
So when you call me from Georgia or Florida or Texas or Mississippi and ask me how to get affordable health insurance with a pre-existing condition, don't blame me for the fact that there's no answer. Blame the residents of your state for voting for politicians who care more about cutting the size of government than they care about our lives and deaths. Blame the politicians for selling this lie, that we will be better off with smaller government and more tax cuts for the wealthy. Blame those who do nothing to make the world a better place. Jennifer