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Another Voice: Medicaid is crucial to people with disabilities

By Ashley Hirtzel

People with disabilities are worthy of a full and balanced life. As I sit here today, I wonder why some politicians focus only on people who are abusing the Medicaid system. I know that many elected officials in parts of New York State are on the same page as me, but there are still some who seem to forget that cuts to Medicaid would negatively affect those who wholeheartedly rely on it.

Cuts to Medicaid of any kind would deeply impact the quality of life for people with disabilities, our most vulnerable population.

During my time at Cantalician Center, I have gained a deeper understanding of just how amazing people with disabilities are. I have witnessed firsthand how much they love to work and volunteer. I can’t tell you how many times the students and individuals at Cantalician have asked me to help with marketing projects. They love to help package items for promotions. They don’t help just me, either. They volunteer at a number of area businesses, like Amvets and Meals on Wheels.

Many are laborers at our division of employment services, Diversified Labor Solutions at Tri-Main Center, doing light manufacturing work. They love to socialize; it is truly inspiring to watch nonverbal students utilize speech generated software on an iPad to communicate with their friends.

They enjoy traveling; the individuals in Cantalician’s Day Habilitation Services have gone to many museums and parks from Buffalo to Niagara and beyond. They love to sing and dance; it makes their day when the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams comes on during the halftime show of an adapted football game.

They long to enjoy the world just like I do, but the difference between them and someone without a disability is that they need some assistance from supports like Medicaid to allow them to be successful.

With the assistance of Medicaid and supports like it, they are able to live a life with deeper purpose.

Medicaid allows people with disabilities to receive their necessary medications and therapies. It gives them access to medical equipment and supplies. It gives them independence from their family to live in an assisted living facility or an apartment with friends.

It helps provide financial relief to their families so they can be their own person and not a burden. I truly believe that instead of cutting Medicaid, we need to start thinking about how we can streamline the process and make it easier for those who need its benefits, because the current Medicaid approval process is difficult and unreliable.

My final plea: Please contact your elected officials in Washington and ask them to oppose any legislation that cuts funds to Medicaid.
Ask them to come up with a bipartisan solution to the health care crisis instead of hurting our most vulnerable citizens.

Ashley Hirtzel is marketing coordinator for the Cantalician Center for Learning.

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