Privatized Medicaid makes no sense for people with disabilities

Who could have guessed that privatizing Medicaid would lead to for-profit companies cutting essential services to Iowans with disabilities? Aside from anyone who spent five minutes reading how the same approach had played out in Kansas?

When Iowa Democratic lawmakers sounded the alarm two and a half years ago, Governor Terry Branstad and his aides dismissed the warnings as “Washington D.C.-style partisan attacks.” They insisted privatization would allow Iowa patients to “enjoy the increased quality of service and care that comes with modern plans administering Medicaid.”

Instead, thousands received less in-home care or had trouble accessing medications and services after private insurance companies began managing their cases. The state now faces a class action lawsuit on behalf of 15,000 Iowans with disabilities.

Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven admitted yesterday what should have been obvious from the start: letting for-profit companies control access to health care for people with disabilities makes no sense.

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Making political events accessible to those with special needs

Mary Dyer is challenging Iowa’s political establishment to be more inclusive toward those who need hearing assistance but do not use sign language. -promoted by desmoinesdem

It was with mixed feelings that I just read about the picnic where a number of Democratic gubernatorial candidates met with constituents to share their views of where they believe the state should go. Mixed feelings because, although I like a good picnic as much as anyone, it was unlikely any attention was given to those with hearing loss who would have had trouble hearing what was said.

I am a person with hearing loss. I lost my hearing suddenly eight years ago and, while I now have a cochlear implant, I need some sort of assistive listening to hear clearly. This has meant that I have been unable to attend any legislative coffees, meetings, campaign events, or caucuses.

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Deaf services gutted in Iowa: Do something!

Mary Dyer, an advocate for Iowans with hearing loss, sounds the alarm about an imminent threat to deaf services. The Department of Human Rights has been forced to cut about $90,000 from its budget before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30. -promoted by desmoinesdem

RE: Cuts to Deaf Services Effective March 31

I was notified Monday, March 6, by Monica Stone, Deputy Director of the Iowa Department of Human Rights, that Stephanie Lyons, the full-time disabilities consultant with the Department of Deaf Services, is being terminated at the end of the month due to “necessary” budget cuts. This leaves one staff member working one-third-time for the entire department of Deaf Services, plus support staff. This is for the entire state of Iowa.

If you are someone with typical hearing, you have probably not thought of the challenges and limitations of having hearing loss. I learned about this the hard way.

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Harkin yes, Grassley no as Senate rejects treaty on disabled rights

Today the U.S. Senate fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Senator Tom Harkin, the godfather of the Americans with Disabilities Act, has been the Senate’s leading proponent of ratifying this treaty. Senator Chuck Grassley voted no, along with most of his Republican colleagues. Background on the treaty and statements from Harkin and Grassley are after the jump.

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