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Dear Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers: Medicaid Cuts Would Hurt Our Sons

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Dear Rep. Rodgers,

Both of our first born sons have Down syndrome. We are both proud members of the disability community, and advocate tirelessly for our sons.

 Senator Cathy McMorris Rodgers with her son, Cole
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers with her son, Cole.

I agreed with you wholeheartedly when you argued for fewer barriers to employment and independent living for people with cognitive disabilities. In 2011, you co-authored a bipartisan op-ed piece in which you argued “If Medicaid cuts are not done in a thoughtful manner, they will have disastrous consequences and will lead to systemic civil rights violations.”

So why did you vote for the American Health Care Act, which will cut $880 billion dollars from Medicaid? 

Per capita based cuts will have disastrous consequences for both our sons. By shifting the cost to states, they will be forced to cut optional programs our sons use, to instead pay for mandatory health services. Most Americans don’t realize that Medicaid helps support our most vulnerable citizens to be more self-reliant and keeps them out of institutions.

You did in fact receive the most campaign contributions from insurance and pharmaceutical health companies. So, when you say you support AHCA because of your son, I have to wonder if that’s really true. Our young sons depend on Medicaid in public school for therapies and special bus services. When they become adults, Medicaid will pay for job training, transportation to work, and independent living supports.

Our families are lucky! We both have really good health insurance. 

My husband is active duty military and we have absolutely no complaints about our healthcare. We’ve never been denied any specialized care for Troy. I’m sure you could say the same about the outstanding insurance you receive as Congresswoman.

But our private insurance won’t pay for the services I listed above.

Courtney Hansen with her son.
Courtney Hansen with her son.

Unless you’re amongst the most wealthy citizens of our country, there is no way families will be able to cover long-term services like job training, transportation to work, and independent living supports. Likely, I will have to stay at home and support my son myself, losing valuable income for our family.

Thousands of disability advocates around the nation stood opposed to the Medicaid cuts you support. Not one Down syndrome advocacy organization actively supports the AHCA as it stands. 

Here’s the list of disability organizations that have rallied on Capitol Hill against those cuts:
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities CCD
American Association on Health and Disability
American Association of People with Disabilities
ACLU Nationwide
AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees)
ANCOR American Network of Community Options and Resources
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
The Arc of the United States
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Brain Injury Association of America
The Collaboration to Promote Self Determination
Center for American Progress
Center for Law and Social Policy
Center for Public Representation
Chronic Illness and Disability Partnership (Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation)
Community Catalyst
Council for Exceptional Children (International Headquarters)
Human Rights Campaign
Justice In Aging
Lutheran Services in America Disability Network
Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.
Medicare Rights Center
National Council on Independent Living
The National Disability Rights Network
National Down Syndrome Congress
National Health Law Program (NHeLP)
Center for Popular Democracy
United Cerebral Palsy

Lastly, Rep. Rodgers, I write to you wondering what I’m supposed to do now. I meet with my own representative, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, on June 20 to tell him my son’s story before he votes on the bill in the Senate. How do I tell him to oppose disastrous cuts to Medicaid when his own colleague in Congress and a mom of a son with a disability thinks they’re OK?

You’ve called for modernizing Medicaid to ensure more in-home and community based supports, versus the institutionalization of our loved ones. But there’s no provisions for this type of reform in AHCA. Disastrous cuts with no explanation as to how states should reform Medicaid is reckless and unconscionable. Our sons deserve better!


Fellow Disability Advocate

This story first appeared on Courtney’s blog. Follow Courtney’s journey of advocacy for her son who has Down syndrome at 

Originally published: June 12, 2017
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