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What Medicaid Has Done for Me as a Person With a Disability

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As our government tries to repeal Obamacare and make budget cuts to other programs, it makes me think of what Medicaid has done for me when I was younger, and even more so now as a parent with a disability.

As a child with a disability, my Medicaid helped me get the medical procedures I needed to have a chance to walk and live more independently. There was no other way that my young mother would’ve been able to afford to pay for the surgeries and years of therapy I needed without that assistance. Thankfully, we encountered wonderful doctors along the way. They helped me gain the ability to walk with the use of a cane. Trust me, for someone whose prognosis was that they would never walk at all, that is a great feat to say the least.

Recently, I heard someone say that people who are on Medicaid are just lazy. That’s the farthest thing from the truth. That’s not to say there isn’t a bad apple or two in the bunch, but it’s a bit of an unfair generalization to make that blanket statement about so many beneficiaries. I remember my grandmother taking me to appointments while my mom tried to work as much as she could to provide for me. As I got older and into high school, she worked two jobs just to make sure we were OK.

Thanks to my Medicaid, I was able to go to college and think about options that might lead to actual work experience. Being able to work at the campus legal services office gave me an edge as far as being more marketable to potential employers. The experience was truly invaluable to me. Although it’s a well-known fact in the disability community, it sometimes seems other people aren’t aware that people with disabilities face higher unemployment rates than our non-disabled counterparts. Many also don’t understand how having access to the services Medicaid provides allows us the opportunity to work and live in our communities alongside our family and friends.

After graduating and getting a full-time job, I could still receive the medical services I needed. Some people don’t realize that even when you work, you’re able to access Medicaid under certain circumstances. I’m very grateful for being able to keep Medicaid services. I could get medical transportation at a discounted rate with the local paratransit service. This was a great help to someone who worked but still lived on a limited amount of resources. It certainly helped make the cost of my healthcare a bit less financially taxing to me.

Now, as a widow and a mother to a 5-year-old boy, my gratitude for the availability of Medicaid continues. My son can access the routine services that allow him to be a thriving little boy. At the same time, I am currently living with the very real concern of what the proposed Medicaid cuts will do to the overall well-being of my family. This is also a growing concern for others around the country who rely on the services Medicaid provides. It is essential for us to have access to Medicaid so we can fully participate in society just like everyone else.

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

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