We are a nonpartisan organization that aims to help children of all backgrounds reach their full potential. But some issues, such as the health, safety, and security of our clientele, transcend politics. As the healthcare debate rages on, we urge you to keep in mind that millions of special needs children across the country rely on Medicaid funding for screenings, therapy, and more. The program helps public schools cover the costs of equipment and services required for students with disabilities; an estimated two-thirds of school districts use the nearly $4 billion in annual funds to pay healthcare specialists serving special education programs. Large cuts to Medicaid will have drastic consequences for special needs education, but make no mistake- your child’s education will be compromised by these cuts even if he or she does not have special needs; the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) contains clear standards for special education programs, and districts struggling with fewer Medicaid funds will be forced to offset the high costs from these programs by reducing their spending in regular education programs.
Outside of school, the parents of special needs children who previously qualified for Medicaid supplements will find themselves struggling to pay the out-of-pocket medical costs associated with physical and intellectual disabilities. And these costs are indeed exorbitant- it takes an additional $17,000 per year to take care of a child with autism spectrum disorder, for instance, due to a combination of medical care, additional special education and therapeutic programs, and the lost wages of the caregiver. The proposed healthcare bills of both the House (American Health Care Act) and the Senate (Better Care Reconciliation Act) would slash Medicaid funding by over $700 billion dollars over the next decade, and this is nothing short of an attack on the rights and lives of individuals with disabilities. We at KISS urge you to contact your representatives as soon as possible to ask them to stand with us in protecting our most special citizens.