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Last Updated: 02/23/2018

Article of Interest - Medicaid Funds

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A Trapped Quadriplegic Speaks About Nursing Homes
John Boyd, July 2005
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Kryptonite never made Superman die; complications from quadriplegia did. I am talking about Christopher Reeves and if we learned anything from his life, we would have learned that everyone is at risk of becoming disabled. After my accident at the age of fourteen, I learned more than I ever wanted to know. First, I learned how much I took for granted and after that; it was a continuing learning experience on how to compensate for what I had lost. Christopher Reeves was fortunate to have the recourses to provide for the care he needed. But, that is not true for most quadriplegics; after a short rehab stay, they may end up in a nursing home because the needed care is too expensive. And, did you know that young people with various disabilities are there? But from the disabled population, quadriplegics are more and more likely to be placed in a nursing home. I know, my first stay in a nursing home started at the age of twenty and ended when I was twenty-seven. My current nursing home stay started when I was forty-one and that was six years ago. I met many quadriplegics during these placements and I remember none of them wishing to stay in the nursing home system.

And if Paul Revere were alive today, I think his new warning would be: "The baby boomers are coming, the baby boomers are coming!" Yes, the population born after World War II is becoming old enough that illness and age may start them thinking about their long term cares needs and whether being placed in a nursing home is in the near future. When these two groups meet, I believe the system will bust.

There must be a change in the way we handle care for the people in need. As it is now, there is a large bias for warehousing people with significant disabilities in nursing homes. The nursing home lobby has ensured the government will continue to have Medicaid and Medicare pay out approximately $5,000 a month to house the sick, the elderly and the disabled. And yet, there are other options such as personal care waivers and purposed Federal Legislation such as MiCASSA - (Senate Bill S971, House Bill HR2032). These are two very reasonable alternatives to the current system. The MiCASSA proposal (Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act) has been before the American People since November of 1999. It came as an answer to the Olmstead decision; when the Supreme Court ruled that needless institutionalization was discrimination according to the ADA laws. I could bore you with endless facts and figures about the feasibility of personal care waivers, which pay for in home/apartment care verses nursing home care. But what I would like for you to understand is that Medicaid is in more financial trouble than Social Security and I believe that the Bush Administration has no real answer for either dilemma. One example, if I were to have a toothache needing medical attention, Medicaid will not pay to fill the tooth and soon they will not pay to pull it either.

So I have to give you this one fact; Last year, 2004, Florida received $2.5 billion for Medicaid spending and almost 89% of that was used to pay for long-term care in nursing homes. People, I hope you are listening; we paid nursing homes $2.25 billion dollars to care for the ill, elderly, and people with disabilities and that includes quadriplegics, like myself.

From my perspective I believe that to some people, nursing homes are virtual prisons without the bars. I know; I have lived in a nursing home for close to 13 years now. I receive $35.00 a month. The nursing home decides what food I will eat and when food is prepared in mass, considering some people are not allowed some spices; the food usually is not that good. When I make personal plans, I have to think about who is scheduled to work and will my time conflict with the time of those who assist me.

I was told Medicaid pays exactly $4,470 dollars a MONTH to house me in a nursing home. If I were given two thousand dollars less, I could live in the community, paying for my own assistance, and have a better quality of life. It would save Medicaid $24,000 each year. Now, multiply that figure by the number of people living in nursing homes who desire to live in the community and we will quickly begin to get the System of Medicaid back on track and end the momentous waste of your hard earned tax dollars.

We are at a crossroad in this great country and NOW is the time for us to demand change. History has shown that the great empires demise was from within. Misspending to care for the aged and disabled is eroding our children's finical future. Let's protect our country's future; contact your representatives and ask they pass MiCASSA.


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