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Local disability organizations oppose AHCA

May 22nd, 2014


CORNING | Five local organizations that provide services to people with disabilities are urging U.S. Rep. Tom Reed and Congress to oppose the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is expected to face a vote Thursday in the House of Representatives.

Able2 Enhancing Potential, AIM Independent Living Center, Pathways, Inc., and the Arcs of Schuyler and Steuben believe the AHCA erodes some of the protections guaranteed in the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, the AHCA proposes significant changes to Medicaid, which will likely reduce services and care for millions of people with disabilities across the country.

The service agencies serve approximately 10,000 people across the state, mostly in the Southern Tier. In total, the organizations employ more than 2,000 people.

Dr. Edward J. Lukomski, President & CEO, Pathways, Inc.:

“Right now, states receive a certain amount of money based on how much they actually spend. The per capita system noted in the American Health Care Act would allocate a set amount of money per person, regardless of how much a person with special needs actually costs the state. This would represent a huge transfer of costs to states, a transfer that would punish those most in need, because as costs rise to meet needs, the resources will remain fixed. This would be perilous to those who have a disability in New York State, since our current experience is with continuing reimbursement reductions to providers for services that are vitally important to those individuals with a disability and to their families. “  

Bernie Burns, Executive Director, Arc of Steuben:

“The reductions to Medicaid in the American Health Care Act will destroy services for people with developmental disabilities. Medicaid-funded services are critical for people. To take them away or drastically reduce them would be devastating.”

John Zick, Director of Government and Public Affairs, AIM:

“The proposed legislation would eliminate the Community First Choice Option, a Medicaid program that ensures and incentivizes community-based living for people with disabilities. Deeper cuts in Medicaid only exacerbate the bias toward institutionalization. Medicaid doesn’t only mean health care: For many, it means the ability to live, work and socialize where one chooses. Eighteen years after the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision that guarantees services in the least-restrictive environment, and 27 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, it seems the spirit of both are under threat. We can’t afford to undo years of progress.”

Jeannette Frank, Executive Director, Arc of Schuyler:

“This proposal will have a severe impact on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those who rely on Medicaid and the Affordable Health Care Act for their health services and community supports. People will experience a decline in critical Medicaid services and fewer people would have the ability to live independently in our communities.”

Leisa Alger, Associate Executive Director, Able2 Enhancing Potential:

“The AHCA and consequent impact on Medicaid represents dramatic negative consequences to NYS citizens with disabilities.  Medicaid represents much more than healthcare to this population. This legislation represents a retreat from individualized supports aimed at greater independence and community living. It has the capacity to erode access to everything from adaptive equipment as vital as specialized wheelchairs, to on-going physical and communication therapies, to supports that could help allow persons with disabilities remain in their own homes, or secure options for employment. The weight of this will be felt heavily by families of persons with disabilities, and the decline in services and supports will result in a scarcity of care and long-term consequences the State and our local communities cannot afford.”