As debate surrounding the American Health Care Act (AHCA) continues in the commotion of Washington and the clamor of local town hall meetings, it becomes apparent that even in the midst of profound disagreement, all can agree that the proper way to garner support is by speaking the loudest. In such an economy of noise, however, what happens to those whose voices fail to gain an ear?
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have traditionally struggled to be heard in national health policy conversations. And amidst the din of the current debate surrounding pre-existing conditions and insurance premiums, discussion of the potential damage to the I/DD community that would be wrought by the AHCA’s congressional approval has gone relatively unheard.
The significant proposed cuts to Medicaid would jeopardize access to basic healthcare services for the I/DD community, many of whom have significant physical conditions in addition to intellectual impairments. Funding for caregivers would likewise be slashed, threatening access to both home care and social programming crucial to the physical and emotional well-being of those with I/DD. Special education funding in public schools could also be dramatically reduced, subverting the attempt to provide early and effective educational opportunities that allow these individuals to lead healthier and vocationally meaningful lives.
Regardless of readers’ political inclinations, it is important that all at least hear this message and consider the implications of the proposed AHCA on the I/DD community, whose voices demand attention even (and especially) when they seem lost in the noise.