To the Editor:
It was bad enough when Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, cobbled together a never-voted-on and total failure of a health care bill to replace ObamaCare. The Republicans, after ten years of trying to kill ObamaCare without any idea of how they would replace it, then doubled down on dumbness by turning the health care bill lead over to Fuhrer Trump and his nimble crew who working in secret, quickly showed how a bad idea can be changed into an even far worse plan for Americans. While the new plan has been subjected to a brutal storm of criticism, I’d like to take a few moments to increase awareness of changes that would have severe impact on our Towns and our taxes right here in Berkshire County. While I am a member of the Southern Berkshire Regional School District School Committee, I am writing as an unenrolled resident and taxpayer of the Town of Sheffield.
I want to focus on an area of the proposed legislation that has been highlighted, but not to the extent needed to understand impact on us here in Berkshire County: the reduction of Medicaid spending. Trump and the Orange House Zoo have stated the 25 percent reduction in Medicaid spending would provide the funds needed to “build the wall.” I’d like to explain what I mean when I say this is “building the wall on the backs of special needs kids”.
Special education programs receive about $4 billion from Medicaid every year. A lot of that money goes to support Medicaid eligible services and support that is provided through schools including Berkshire County regional, city and town schools which by law, must provide certain services to special needs students. This new legislation would allow Medicaid eligible services reimbursement to be stripped from public schools. What that would mean to us here in Berkshire County is schools would continue to be required to provide such services and all the costs would be covered by additional local taxes. For example, our excellent small district, Southern Berkshire Regional School District would have to increase the annual budget to cover the loss of Medicaid reimbursement or offset the loss of this revenue though elimination of non-required classes. In the fiscal year of FY2016, SBRSD was reimbursed $200,000 for Medicare eligible services. With the growing number of special needs students, this number is expected to continue to rise. I hope by now you understand why I call Trumpcare, along with other derogatory names, “Building the “Wall” on the Backs of Special Needs Kids.”
So, what do we do now? What we can do is become very politically active and do everything we can to make sure this Bill is not passed by the Senate. If you like to use the telephone, call your local, state and national elected officials. Call them and tell them to fight against “Building the Wall on the Backs of Special Needs Kids”. If you like to write, email or use social media, do the same thing. If like to holler, find a street corner, hold a sign up and holler!
I thank you in advance for helping stop this brutal and unjust plan.