By Sean Adelman
I am writing this a prelude to watching the interview with Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers. I felt it important to give a prelude because I am having a really hard time with much of what she says. Two years ago she was someone I trusted to do the right thing by those of us trying to advocate for people with disabilities. She was someone we thought of as a true representative, not just a figurehead who was power hungry and let partisanship rule the agenda beyond doing what was right. Now after watching this I am confused and feeling betrayed.
As most of you know I am an orthopedic surgeon and parent of a nearly 21-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome, I have written 4 books and run an advocacy site dedicated to people with intellectual and physical disabilities, so I do have some understanding of these issues. My amazing daughter just finished her college program and is now working as a summer intern for Senator Maria Cantwell.
McMorris-Rodgers mentions how important employment is in her interview, and I could not agree more with what she says about the importance of employment and independence. She discusses the statistics of employment for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) and how much of a positive effect being employed has on those with ID. It’s not just those employed; it is also the coworkers who benefit she states. Her son Cole, who has Down Syndrome, needs extra health care and having health care that best fits your needs is crucial and it is her goal to make sure everyone has access to that.
She says time and again during the interview that Medicaid is crucial to those with disabilities and that she vows it will not be cut. She also says that the media has it wrong, that there will be more funding for Medicaid under the health care bill that she supported.
Last she discussed the importance of education and inclusion for everyone, but particularly with ID; that our progress towards inclusion in schools makes all the difference when looking at outcomes and independence for those with ID.
Now the tough stuff, it’s all tied together. Employment support and transition programs for college and employment for people with ID are tied to Medicaid and the bill she supports will result in less money for those services. Which leads to her saying that she doesn’t want to cut Medicaid even though she supports and voted for a bill that essentially does just that. She states that the media has it wrong, that her bill does not do that, but its not just the media, it’s the CBO, the Kaiser Foundation, and every major medical, hospital and insurance group.
Health care is critical and there are already 28 million Americans without health care, the CBO as well as the Kaiser Health Foundation predict this plan will increase those numbers several million fold. If that weren’t enough it will end many of the portions regarding preexisting conditions, and Down Syndrome is a preexisting condition. Many of the GOP have said that lack of insurance doesn’t kill people. That is actually not true there is a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reviewing all of the current evidence supporting the increased mortality and worsening health of those without insurance. There are many cofounders that confuse this issue, but the fact is there is an increase risk of dying if you don’t have insurance.
Education, she sites the importance of education, yet the early intervention programs for people with ID are based on, you guessed it, Medicaid. To make this even more inspiring, is the fact that are current Secretary of Education, whom she supports, is propagating an agenda which has been shown time and again to be discriminatory against those with disabilities. Whatever you think about charter schools and vouchers it has never been shown to be positive for people with disabilities. Having said that, I must confess that there is currently a moment, particularly in our catholic schools, to improve inclusion and help right those wrongs, but that is not what this administration is proposing.
The argument from Cathy McMorris-Rodgers is that the media has it wrong that the liberals are making this up. Except, she is the only republican in the state who supported the bill (the other two voted against it and do not have a child with Down Syndrome) the bill was passed before the CBO (a non partisan organizations created for exactly this purpose) had a chance to review it. Last, every major medical society, hospital group, and insurance company has come out against this. If part of this bill is to support doctors and hospitals, why would you not listen to them?
As a surgeon who has practiced for 20 years in different states, in the Air Force, private practice, and now working with Kaiser, I have a unique perspective. Every single day of my career I have been forced to make decisions based on what insurance was going to pay or not pay for. Whether it was the military, Tri Care, Blue cross or Kaiser, that was true before Obamacare, during Obamacare and likely whatever comes next. Her comments seem to reveal a lack of understanding of the physician-patient relationship and how that is truly affected by what she proposes. And if so, then as a “representative” shouldn’t she listen to what we (the people who know) have to say?
Please… someone help me understand this!
click on the link below for the interview