Healthcare Fight is Personal
As a Personal Care Attendant for the past three years, I’ve cared for children in our town with needs that run the gamut from cerebral palsy to autism The parents of these special needs children depend on PCAs so their children can receive care in their homes and community. Doing the rewarding work of a PCA has led me to become an activist, frontline protester and all-out defender of our healthcare rights.
For me, this fight became even more personal when a friend and fellow PCA in town passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. At her memorial service I reflected on the extraordinarily compassionate care she provided to those whose lives she touched. Like her consumers, she depended on a home care worker toward the end to manage her illness at home and have a peaceful death with her family by her side.
Like the children I care for and my friend, thousands of our elderly, sick and disabled citizens in Massachusetts rely on Medicaid to fund MassHealth’s Personal Care Attendant program, a vital piece of our healthcare system.
PCAs provide the critical care services people need to remain in their own homes and by doing so they also save the Commonwealth’s taxpayers millions of dollars. If MassHealth’s funding is even partially reduced, countless residents will lose this affordable healthcare option. I couldn’t stand by and let that happen to my consumers, so instead I traveled to D.C. to advocate for, not only them, but also for all of us who will someday need PCA services.
Along with dozens of healthcare workers from Massachusetts to Florida and California I travelled to Capitol Hill before the planned vote on Graham-Cassidy Bill. Thanks to my fellow home care workers and thousands of Americans who spoke up about the cruelty of the bill, it is officially dead and the Republicans ran out of time to pass repeal with a simple majority.
This is a major victory for so many, but the fight is not over. Medicaid remains under great threat.
The GOP’s tax plan could mean tax breaks for the wealthy made possible through big cuts to Medicaid, an equation that would totally upend our healthcare. Republicans who would steamroll these benefits need to know: Medicaid isn’t a niche program for a select few — it’s a core and necessary part of our healthcare today. I can guarantee that, if they try to resurrect their cruel plan to repeal the ACA, they’ll be met with massive resistance from home care workers like me who are leading this fight.
Diane Hahn, Fairhaven
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