Darla Ervin Writes in Charleston Gazette-Mail

Darla Erwin: Medicaid’s future a life/death decision to disabled (Gazette)

By Darla Erwin
Darla Ervin

I am — like thousands of others in West Virginia — a person with a disability. I was born with cerebral palsy and need a power wheelchair to get around. I’m also a mother, a widow, and a daughter. My handsome son, Wesley, is in the military and serves in Iraq.

Like many other people with disabilities, I have created a full life for myself: I am becoming a court-appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children; I serve on several boards for disability organizations; and I am the co-coordinator of West Virginia ADAPT, a grassroots disability rights organization.

Also like so many other people with disabilities, I am only able to live this full, active life because of Medicaid. Medicaid pays for my wheelchair, for my medications and for the attendant who helps me get up in the morning and go to bed at night. Without these supports, I would be in a nursing home. Or, I would be dead.

The current congressional proposals to fundamentally change — and slash — Medicaid leave me terrified. The home- and community-based services that Medicaid funds for me — and 13,000 other senior and disabled West Virginians — could disappear. Completely. We will be left with no choice but to abandon our jobs, our families, our volunteer work. Many of us might be forced into nursing homes. Others would have family members who quit their jobs to care for us. Still others would die.