Opinion Columns & Blogs

Ryan plan would hurt people with disabilities

The budget plan released by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and approved by the House is a serious threat to Americans with disabilities.

Ryan is taking aim at Medicaid, which serves more than 8 million disabled Americans. It helps pay for such essentials as prescription drugs, wheelchairs, prosthetics and therapies.

Ryan’s plan calls for block-granting Medicaid, which means the federal government would give the states a lump sum of Medicaid revenue to spend as they see fit. This may sound nice, but it really is a sneaky way of ending the guarantee that people with disabilities have to Medicaid. States could conceivably restrict eligibility in ways they cannot currently, thus limiting access to Medicaid services for people with disabilities. Since about 40 percent of Medicaid money serves people with disabilities, the incentive for states to dump them off the rolls or reduce their coverage to save money would be powerful.

States would face increasing financial pressure to do so because Ryan’s plan also reduces federal spending on Medicaid by $810 billion over 10 years. This is about 22 percent below the level needed to maintain the Medicaid program over that period of time, according to the American Association of People With Disabilities.

Ryan would also make deep across-the-board cuts that could severely impact disabled Americans’ access to housing and education.

Ryan put forth a similar draconian budget last year. Fortunately, he didn’t completely get his way. He has to be stopped again.