Family story time / Photo by Sean Dreilinger
By Molly Grover
Clay is a self-declared “evangelical Texan.” He used to feel that Medicaid was a program “for really poor people and folks who are trying to scam the system.” But when two of his three daughters were born with major intellectual disabilities, Clay’s beliefs about federally-funded Medicaid changed overnight.
Clay is convinced that his family would be in tatters without the assistance of two Medicaid waivers, which have enabled his daughters to remain at home in Plano, TX.
Patient and attentive parents though they are, Clay and his wife are aware that they lack “the capabilities, financial resources, etc, to provide the care that [the girls] need.” This is why the Medicaid waivers that fund doctor’s appointments, adaptive services, and a couple hours of daily personal care for the girls are invaluable to Clay’s family.
“This isn’t a matter of ‘will we get to the movies?’” Clay says. “No. We’re talking about being able to assemble five people at home every evening… This is not a luxury.”
While the psychological rewards of togetherness have been huge for his family, Clay knows that the help they receive makes sense on a broader scale too. When the numbers are laid out, the Medicaid program that keeps the girls from being institutionalized is just good financial sense.
“When you look at the overhead and maintenance costs of our state institutions, they are about… three times more than the cost… of my children living at home with us,” says Clay. In other words, the program also saves the government money.
But nothing frustrates the father of three more than knowing that this vital assistance his girls receive is subject to the shifting tides of politics. For Clay, there is nothing more frightening than “the idea that my children’s welfare for the rest of their lives is being largely determined by… each election cycle.”
“That does not give me a warm-fuzzy,” he says.
For now, the proud Texan does his best to lobby his reps and fight for the maintenance of government programs like Medicaid. He’s hoping every day that his efforts will be enough to keep his family whole and thriving.
Molly Grover is a summer intern at National Priorities Project and an Ada Comstock scholar at Smith College.