Texans with disabilities worry about repeal and replace Medicaid cuts

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Disability advocates worry the Congressional plan to repeal and replace Obamacare will strangle health care for Texans with disabilities.

Medicaid dollars from the federal government make up about one-fifth of the entire budget for the state of Texas.

That’s about $20 billion a year to take care of four categories of Texans pregnant women, poor children, poor elderly and people with disabilities. The American Health Care Act caps Medicaid payments at a “per capita rate” and let’s the state of Texas decide who gets what.

After graduating from the University of Texas with a journalism degree, Susie Angel got a job at the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities. She edits everything that leaves the office and writes the newsletter. Angel has cerebral palsy and Texas Medicaid pays for her medical and occupational health care and for her personal aide that gets her out and ready for work in the morning.

Susie Angel (KXAN Photo)

“Without Medicaid, I would not be where I am today,” said Angel.

But now, Texans with disabilities are concerned about changes that just passed the US House, including a limit on the Medicaid money Texas gets from the federal government. That would leave the state to sort out who gets what. Angel’s boss, Denis Borel, says Texas already has 130,000 people waiting for Medicaid to cover their personal caregivers.

“So if we’re already that far behind… in what universe does a policymaker think we’re going to make this up and make it better for people? No it will hurt people,” said Borel.

Supporters say cutting Medicaid spending — and lowering taxes — would boost the economy and improve healthcare for everyone through competition. Still, Angel worries her peers won’t be able to be self-sufficient.

“If we can’t do that, then we can’t contribute to society and pay taxes and all that good stuff that everybody else does,” said Angel.

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