Mississippians with disabilities are voicing their concerns about the nation's healthcare bills, which include cuts to Medicaid.
Desmeon Thomas of Jackson, suffered a spinal cord injury in 2002, at the age of 19. He says Medicaid helps him live independently. Attendants paid through the program, get him out bed, washed and dressed everyday. Now 34, he helps others with disabilities access services at Living Independence for Everyone, Mississippi. Thomas says cuts to Medicaid in the healthcare bills under debate in Washington, DC. would be devastating.
"You take away the service. You take away me. You take away independence. You take away everything I stand for as a person and you're telling me you don't care if we're productive. You don't care if we're active," said Thomas.
According to the Mississippi Office of Medicaid, in January 2016, more than 25 percent of residents received benefits. The U.S. Senate healthcare bill calls for sending a lump sum to states and require they foot more of the costs. The Center for American Progress estimates the plan would remove more than 235-thousand Mississippians from the Medicaid rolls by 2026. Kim Robinson is with the Children Defense Fund in Jackson.
"Critical services would be lost across the board. Hospitals would have to decrease their services that they have and it would likely close our rural healthcare system down completely," said Robinson.
Republican State Senator Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula chairs the Medicaid Committee. He supports providing services for the disabled and having the money sent to states.
"I think we in Mississippi can make better decisions for Mississippians than people in Washington.
Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker supports the senate healthcare plan. Senator Thad Cochran is reviewing it. Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities will hold rallies outside of both the senators' Jackson offices tomorrow.