I realize that my complaint comes after the fact, and maybe too late. However, I want you to know that decisions by Oklahoma legislators are shameful, hurtful, and an embarrassment to the state. Recent state medicaid cuts hurt people that are already the most vulnerable. and certainly do not represent me or my Oklahoma values.
I am living proof that cuts to medicaid are devastating. And how would she know, you might ask. I live it. Please let me tell you of my experience.
I have FA (Friedreich’s Ataxia). Not many people have even heard of it because it’s considered a rare disease. Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) is a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder. About one in 50,000 people in the United States have Friedreich’s ataxia. Currently, there is no cure or treatment. My symptoms are loss of balance and coordination (started using a mobility scooter in my early 20’s, 1991 ), scoliosis (I had corrective spinal surgery at age 16, 1986), foot problems (feet turning inward & I wear ankle support braces, both around 2006), dysarthria (first noticed it in 2001 during my last year of teaching, then speech has gradually worsened), and severe daily fatigue. (Cognition is not affected.) FA is very similar to Muscular Dystrophy and ALS.) As you can see, the problems are on-going and progressive.
I live with my primary caregivers, my aging parents, and I qualify for in-home, self-directed state medicaid waiver programs. This state is already experiencing cuts, as you know. I don’t approve of programs for the elderly and disabled being cut or dissolved, never have been. Are you willing to fix 2 meals a day for me, use a lift six times a day for toileting, light housekeeping. help bathe, dress, and drive me to appointments? I didn’t think so. A personal service aide visits daily to assist with these tasks. The program actually saves the state of OK money in terms of keeping me in my home. $80,000 a year for me to live in a nursing home vs. $30,000 for a caregiver to come to my house. So, medicaid provides jobs to health care workers, case managers, and various office personnel. Medicaid provides a level of dignity to clients, and puts supplemental income back into the economy. (Personal experience.)
As people do, I just went on… high school graduation, college, marriage, career as a Special Ed. Teacher, and NSU grad. College was the first time I used a wheelchair – actually a mobility scooter.
Currently, I spend almost forty hours a week with an in home personal care assistant (thank you taxpayer, you make that possible), and two days a week, I go to the gym/physical therapy. I follow healthy eating habits, and a vitamin/supplement regime. I am blessed with many opportunities, mercies, and kindnesses. I am very cognizant that circumstances could be worse. With this in mind, I try to suck it up and go on, and bloom where I’m planted.
FA , in my opinion, is quite a cruel disease. It is relentless, demanding, and overwhelming. That being said, I tend to be a positive person, and strive to achieve. I choose living, and learning, and challenging myself. Years ago, I knew on an academic level, the progression patterns of FA. Using adaptive equipment is no problem. I didn’t particularly like the diagnosis, but it did not stop me; until now. I’ve lived thirty plus years as being diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia. Does it stop me from doing all that I want to do? Heavens, yes. I have settled into the part of disease progression of being physically dependent. Freedoms I once took for granted, like driving, living on my schedule, cooking, cleaning, gardening, maintaining a house, or, taking care of a pet are fond memories. Many dreams have died, as I have been confronted by the reality of FA. Have I given up? Not a chance. Granted, I have limits, but within those parameters, I am an active, healthy, busy, happy person. I enjoy singing in the church choir, reading, attending music concerts, working out at the gym, and spending time with friends and family.
This is my story, and my experience with medicaid. Living in the disabled world is a different reality. Time is way more fluid, generally, most folks are patient and helpful, although, in this part of the world there is a segment of the population who feel duty bound to lay hands on me, and pray. (Complete strangers!) I live day-to-day, and I’m worried about my future anyway, but seeing my 75 year old parents physically struggle to take care of me is awful. My other option is a nursing home or move out of state, which takes money I don’t have. Will the state pay for me to relocate?
Quit cutting taxes for the rich and/or reinstate said tax break, donate part or all your salary to senior nutrition plans, raise the gasoline tax by less than a penny per gallon. Think man! The OK legislature is not representing me, and I am a voter (who has been betrayed). I don’t run my household expenses so myopically, and I do my best to live in a considerate, respectful manner; not hurting people out of willful ignorance. I expect the same from my political representatives.
New International Version (NIV
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Christin Haun; OK District 98