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Health News Florida

Disability Advocates Urge Changes to Federal Healthcare Bill

Jennifer Perry-Breen with her electronic voice synthesizer
Jennifer Perry-Breen with her electronic voice synthesizer

The version of healthcare reform passed by the U.S. House early last month would be devastating to Florida patients who have disabilities. That was the message Tuesday (6/6) morning from more than a dozen advocate organizations in Tallahassee.

Jennifer Perry-Breen with her electronic voice synthesizer
Credit Tom Flanigan
Jennifer Perry-Breen with her electronic voice synthesizer

Jennifer Perry-Breen depends on a speech device to communicate. She says her electronic voice and many others could be silenced if the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare also clears the Senate.

“People with disabilities account for 15 percent of total Medicaid enrollment, but 42 percent of program spending due to their greater health needs and more intensive service use,” she said, using her device to address a news conference at the Tallahassee office of the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology.

Dr. J.R. Harding worried about an amendment to the bill allowing states to waive coverage for pre-existing conditions, such as his quadriplegia.

“I wholeheartedly urge the United States to remove this amendment from the American Healthcare Act and to ensure that individuals like me – those with pre-existing conditions – have an equal opportunity in the workforce,” he said.

Today, more than 1,000,000 Floridians with disabilities rely on Medicaid for healthcare coverage; coverage that the advocate groups worry would be cut to the vanishing point if the House bill also makes it through the Senate without significant changes.

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