Fresh off another tense fight for the preservation of Medicaid, it is now quite clear that some in Congress have little desire to revert to back to regular order and follow the rules and procedures of the legislative body when it comes to reforming health care coverage. Since March, three attempts to completely overhaul Medicaid and strip essential federal funding away from a program designed to help meet the complex healthcare needs of people with disabilities occurred without a needed national discussion and proper hearings allowing those that will most directly be impacted. With each proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, efforts to jam a bill through Congress with few opportunities for advocates to chime in on such a massive undertaking as America’s complex healthcare system were mind-numbing. The most recent proposal was patched together in less than two weeks and received just one hearing, and an abbreviated Congressional Budget Office review. Is this how elected officials should govern? Fortunately, Autism Society advocates voiced their concerns to their elected officials and helped to defeat yet another bill. Yes, the Affordable Care Act is imperfect. However, let’s address improvements in such a way that the resolution helps rather than harm people.
The entire purpose of public hearings and committee deliberations are to allow experts, constituents, and many others explore nuances of legislation and propose improvements to shore up proposals. The process enables advocates to work in partnership with lawmakers, policy experts, and other key collaborators. But, recently, it appears some in Congress are more committed to a rushed process, with limited transparency, few opportunities for advocates to discuss and debate important issues than one that allows for transformative change. While no bill is perfect, preventing real committee hearings and providing sufficient time for review and comments, is not the best way to act on laws affecting millions of our most vulnerable communities.
Today I ask that we all urge our elected officials from both parties to put aside partisanship and commit to working across the aisle to develop proposals that address the needs of individuals with disabilities. Listen to experts and constituents on all sides of the issue so we can reach the ultimate goal of ensuring each and every person can maximize their potential and achieve the highest quality of life. Let’s use the process we all learned about in school on how a bill becomes law!
To all those who called their legislators, wrote letters or emails or visited with their legislators – THANK YOU!