Iowans with spinal injuries seek Medicaid changes

MIchelle Medders

DES MOINES — A group of Iowans with profound spinal injuries is urging legislators to make changes in Medicaid benefits that help them navigate life while confined to a wheelchair. Michele Meadors of Des Moines said the switch to private management of Medicaid in 2016 has forced some wheelchair-bound Iowans into a long-term care facility.

“I pray it never happens to you, but if it does, you’d better thank one of us for paving the way to make sure your life is worth living,” Meadors said during a news conference at the capitol.

Jen Wolff of Waverly is another of the more than 300 members of the Iowa chapter of the United Spinal Association.

“I think it’s time legislators see people with disabilities not as a sick person, not as a person who’s home-bound or wheelchair-bound, not somebody who’s a drain on the system, but people who want to give back to the state of Iowa,” Wolff said during the news conference.

Tucker Cassidy is a quadriplegic from Waterloo who was featured in one of the campaign ads Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell ran last year. Cassidy said he still has trouble arranging daily care through the private company that manages his Medicaid benefits.

“If I can’t get out of bed in the morning, how am I supposed to do anything, let alone work?” Cassidy asked.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 60,000 Iowans have a disability that makes it difficult to perform “self-care activities” like showering or dressing.

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