This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
As a special education teacher, I have reason to be nervous about Medicaid cuts.
Medicaid is an efficient way to provide related services for students with disabilities. Basic needs must be met for a student to learn they need food, rest, restroom access, etc. Many students need extra help to access these.
Nurses teach me to tube-feed and care for students who have seizures, wheelchairs and other medical needs. Physical therapists ensure students are lifted to changing tables without injury. Speech therapists teach students to communicate, so their needs are met without acting out. Classroom aides work to feed, toilet, teach and assist students.
Medicaid pays for people who support Utah children, without whom I could not teach.
According to the Council for Exceptional Children, programs currently receive roughly $4 billion in Medicaid reimbursements yearly. A per-capita cap could leave schools without Medicaid dollars to provide medically necessary services. If these students are not educated, they represent an ever-greater burden on society as they age.
I urge Sen. Orrin Hatch to continue his legacy as an advocate for the 70,000 Utah students with disabilities and oppose cuts to Medicaid.
Elizabeth Ann Ellingson Spencer
Salt Lake City