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Local Parents of Children on Medicaid Weigh in on Latest Obamacare Repeal Attempt

Ben Katz

Republican lawmakers are taking another shot at repealing the Affordable Care Act. While it’s a chance for Republicans to follow through on their longtime promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, those who rely on the coverage say the plan would drastically impact their lives.

Opponents of the Graham-Cassidy plan say the cuts are too similar to other proposed bills that have failed and could result in millions of people losing their coverage.

As soon as Anne Morgan Giroux heard about the proposal, she wrote lawmakers a letter about her daughter, Lily.

“I punched this out in about 5 minutes because I was so frustrated and angry about this (and) that we have to fight this again,” she said.

Lily, 22, lives mostly independently, renting an apartment in Madison. She works 35 hours a week at two jobs, something she’s able to do thanks to a job coach. Morgan Giroux explains that a job coach helps Lily find work, provides extra training and helps navigate any unexpected issues.

“She relies on Medicaid (to pay for) her job coach, for her supports in her apartment and for her prescription drugs. If you take that away, you are taking away her life,” Giroux said.

Like her friend, Barbara Katz is worried about what the bill would mean for her 26-year-old son, Ben.

“Ben works four part-time jobs in the community. He owns his own art business,” Katz said. “And he has been disabled since birth. Ben has been on Medicaid since birth.”

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) are sponsoring the bill. Graham and Cassidy say rather than trying to run health care from Washington, they’re giving governors more power. They say in a nutshell, the bill takes Obamacare money and gives it to the states, meaning states can reinstate Obamacare mandates, repair them or replace them altogether.

But opponents of the bill argue it’s too similar to previous failed bills. It eliminates Medicaid expansion, reallocating that money to states into block grants. For some states, that means less money than they’re receiving now from the federal government for Medicaid programs.

“For kids like Ben and Lily, if Medicaid didn’t pay for these things that are called home- and community-based services, then I know Ben would be in an institution,” Katz said.

The Senate only has until Sept. 30 to pass the Graham-Cassidy plan with a simple majority of 50 votes. In her letter, Morgan Giroux is asking them to slow down for Lily and Ben’s sake.

“This affects way too many people to ram it through,” she said. “You owe that to the people who elected you, including my 22-year-old daughter Lily, who, by the way, also votes.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has already said he will not support the bill. If two more senators also vote no, the bill is dead.