Guest Post: Medicaid is a Lifeline for People with Disabilities in Iowa

Medicaid is a lifeline for people with disabilities in Iowa and around the nation

Late last week, The Des Moines Register ran an article about a young man named Louis, whose health care services were drastically cut with little notice, and it broke my heart.

According to the article, Louis has severe disabilities and requires substantial support to ensure that he can stay healthy, comfortable and clean while living at home with his mother, Joann. Earlier this summer, Joann was informed that the care that Louis received, care that helped Joann keep him sanitary and safe in their home, was being cut. The family struggled to care for Louis for six weeks before his services were reauthorized.

In 2016, Iowa moved to managed care for Medicaid, which provides health care services for more than 600,000 Iowans who are poor, elderly and have disabilities, including the 500 people Mosaic supports in Iowa. Medicaid is a lifeline for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Iowa and around the nation.

While I understand the need to control health care costs in our state, I’m very concerned about cutting services arbitrarily for people like Louis to achieve cost savings.

Without long-term care through Medicaid, it can be difficult for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to maintain even the most basic standard of living­ – being able to eat, bathe, take medications and even using the restroom often require help from another person.

When someone with an intellectual disability loses access to long-term health care, there are usually very few places that can help them get the care they need. When changes are made with little to no notice it can be traumatic, humiliating and dangerous.

I encourage Gov. Kim Reynolds to work with people with disabilities, their families and service providers to ensure that Iowans like Louis and the people Mosaic supports can live healthily, productively and with dignity. Iowa can and must build a health care system that cares for all people.

Carol Mau is the Executive Director of Mosaic in Central Iowa, one of four Mosaic agencies that provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Iowa.

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