Kentucky's next senator, Rand Paul, is a rabid opponent of Medicaid, the federal and state health program for the disabled and very poor. Paul has called Medicaid--which insures 800,000 people in Kentucky, more than half of whom are children--an example of "intergenerational warfare."*
"We've made it too easy," he said earlier this month, for people to get government health aid--especially pregnant women seeking obstetric care.**
Well, here's how easy life is for citizens of Indiana, just next door to Paul: With the state facing a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall, thousands of parents of severely disabled kids (those with autism, Down syndrome, epilepsy, and the like) have not received the Medicaid vouchers they depend on to provide care for their children at home. Now the AP reports that some state workers have been telling the parents to consider dropping their kids off at homeless shelters.
Kim Dodson, associate executive director of The Arc of Indiana advocacy group, speculated the suggestions result from frustration among BDDS staff. Families have become more outspoken in complaining about waiting for waivers — waiting lists had more than 20,000 names last month — and upset that Family and Social Services has reduced services as Gov. Mitch Daniels has cut its budget. The Arc says cuts since July have eliminated 2,000 waiver slots.
“It is something we are hearing from all over the state, that families are being told this is an alternative for them,” Dodson said. “A homeless shelter would never be able to serve these people.”
* Paul's medical practice receives about half its income from Medicaid and Medicare payments.
** Paul opposes abortion in all cases (including rape and incest), saying he would support a Constitutional amendment establishing that fertilized eggs have the rights of born individuals.