Building ‘The Wall’ on the backs of special needs kids

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By Wednesday, May 17 Letters  16 Comments

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.

Dennis Sears,

Sheffield, Massachusetts

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16 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Steve Farina says:

    Funding the government on the backs of ALL of our children. The federal government has been running deficits for decades and we have federal debt in the tens of Trillions (think about that for a second).
    This has been overseen by administrations of BOTH Republicans AND Democrats.
    It ALL will be paid for by our posterity in one way or another.
    It is past time to remove these tunnel vision goggles and look at the big picture.

    1. DB says:

      Another thoughtful and helpful comment. Do yoiu have a point?

  2. Steve Farina says:

    And while I appreciate your concern for the special needs programs, idk what your total budget is, but $200,000 is a drop in the bucket of our $15 million budget.

  3. mary says:

    It’s time that taxpayers stop funding special needs students; send them to their own private schools where they can get all the attention that they need.

  4. DB says:

    No democrat ever wanted to build a wall between us and our neighbor, Mexico. And never did they suggest it or scheme to pay for it from our Medicaid funding.
    Talk about tunnel- vision!

    1. Steve Farina says:

      You ought to maybe check your facts DB. And my point is that we have far bigger issues ( caused by blindly following the two major parties) which require a broader view than this myopic point.

      PS: also, consider using your real name, the acronym allows many creative minds to arrive at so many possible acrostics, DB

      1. DB says:

        You make no point at all. Did you say you did not even vote last November? I could be wrong on that .

      2. Steve Farina says:

        I’m sorry you miss the point, or chose to ignore the fact that our federal deficit is paid for on the backs of ALL our children, and future generations. No one who is alive today will likely see our tens of trillion dollar debt paid off. We are already paying a huge toll for it, and our future generations will suffer more for it.

        And, I have been an active voter for many years, including the Presidential election cycle of 2016.

      3. Dennis Irvine says:

        “Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.”

        I think this website is quite informative about the real issues and value of anonymity versus sideways acrostic subtext, mercurial moderation and our all too frequent lack of civil speech.

      4. Steve Farina says:

        Good point Dennis. Thanks for the reminder and the excellent link. Eff does some really good work. And this site does allow quite a lot of freedom (though I have had comments removed several times which I would not have considered offensive but more likely for the subject matter – and I am not sure if that is at the discretion of the author, the editor, or either).

      5. Dennis Irvine says:

        Thanks, Steve for the thoughtful reply. Yes, EFF does important work. Have a great Sunday.

    2. Patrick Fennell says:

      Look up the vote in 2006. I can’t call you a coward or idiot anymore since you are a handicapped liberal. Apparently facts get in your way. Stop watching LSNBC.

      1. Patrick — Your comments are often personal in tone, and irrelevant in content. Please refrain from nasty observations; try to be thoughtful, instead, to contribute in a meaningful way to the discussion.

      2. Patrick Fennell says:

        How about only allowing people who use full names blog in? That way we all know each other.

      3. Steve Farina says:

        Personally insulting the people whose ideas you are commenting on lessens the effectiveness of any point you may be making. The personal insults also create an environment where people don’t feel safe using their full names. Please heed David’s advice and refrain from the name calling.
        Thanks, Steve

  5. Patrick Fennell says:

    At the local town meetings thousands of dollars were wasted and there was no talk at all about special needs children when an elevator to a dance floor was voted in at GB, no one questioned the extra personnel over the years while expensive computer systems were voted in and the biggest slap at all is why are ther six small school districts south of Pittsfield, talk about being anti education. Until the local governments take care of business don’t complain about federal waste. Being responsible starts in your own town and it isn’t done. The school districts should be consolidated last year.

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