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New Yorkers with Disabilities Spot Slip-Up in Health Care Bill

September 25, 2009

NEW YORK - Advocates for people with disabilities have spotted a flaw in the health care reform bill proposed by Sen. Max Baucus they say could throw a barrier in front of those who rely in Medicaid for things they need to function.

Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York, says a clause in the bill would result in unintended consequences.

"It's a clause that would re-calculate how income is counted in order to be eligible for Medicaid, which is often used by people with disabilities to get things like hearing aids, and hearing aid repairs, or wheelchairs."

Some voices in the health care debate think that the so-called safety net is too wide and that Medicaid is one place that cuts could be made. Advocates for people with disabilities say that would be a mistake and are calling on New York's congressional delegation to fix the problem. Dooha is looking to Sen. Charles Schumer for help, in particular, who serves on the Finance Committee currently working on reform.

"We hope Sen. Schumer and the New York delegation are going to notice this little provision and are going to be able to understand the consequences for New Yorkers with disabilities."

The clause in question may seem small to some, admits Dooha, but it's big for people with disabilities.

"The way the legislation stands, unless somebody intervenes, people with disabilities are going to lose this coverage that has allowed them to work, to save, and to hope for a regular life."

Senator Baucus' bill is known as America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY