As our government tries to repeal Obamacare and make budget cuts to other programs, it makes me think of what Medicaid has done for me when I was younger, and even more so now as a parent with a disability. As a child with a disability, my Medicaid helped me get the medical procedures I needed to have a chance to walk and live more independently. During those times when I was younger, there was no other way my young mother would’ve even been able to afford the surgeries and therapy that ensued for years without the assistance Medicaid provided to us. Thankfully, we encountered wonderful doctors along the way. They helped me gain the ability to walk with the use of a cane for just a bit of help. Trust me, for someone whose prognosis was that they would never walk at all, that is a great feat to say the least. Recently, I heard someone say that people who are on Medicaid are just lazy. This is something that based on personal experiences is the farthest thing from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say there isn’t a bad apple or two in the bunch, but honestly to make that blanket statement about so many beneficiaries is a bit of an unfair generalization. I remember my grandmother taking me to appointments while my mom tried to work as much as she could to provide for me. As I got older and into high school, she worked two jobs just to make sure we were okay.

When I got to college, it was thanks to my Medicaid that I could even go, and think about options that might lead to actual work experience. The fact that I was subsequently able to work at the campus legal services office gave me an edge as far as being more marketable to potential employers. The experience was truly invaluable to me. Although a well-known fact in the disability community, people outside of the community sometimes aren’t aware that people with disabilities face higher unemployment rates than their non-disabled counterparts. Another misconception under the veil of secrecy is that having access to the services that Medicaid provides allows us the opportunity to work and live in our communities alongside our family and friends.

After graduating and getting a full-time job, I could still receive the medical services I needed. Some people don’t realize that even when you work, you’re able to access Medicaid under certain circumstances. I would have to say that looking back on that time, I’m very grateful for being able to use the services. I could get medical transportation at a discounted rate with the local paratransit service. This is a great help to someone who worked but still lived on a limited amount of resources at the same time. It certainly helped make the cost of my healthcare a bit less financially taxing to me.

Now, as a widow and a mother to a 5-year-old boy, my gratitude for the availability of Medicaid continues. My son can access the routine services that allow him to be a thriving little boy. At the same time, I am currently living with the very real concern of what the proposed Medicaid cuts will do to the overall well-being of my family. This is also a growing concern for others around the country who rely on the services Medicaid provides them. It is essential for them to access the independence Medicaid allows them to have so they can fully participate in society just like everyone else.

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