Nebraskans with disabilities say budget cuts hurt them

Posted By: Bayley Bischof Channel 8 Eyewitness News

It was Disabilities Pride Day in Nebraska.

Members of Nebraska’s disabled community used it as an opportunity to advocate for their rights.

This year, the Nebraska state legislature had to make several budget cuts…

Speakers says those cuts were made without them in mind.

State senator Lynne Walz says with the cuts made, Nebraska’s gone back in time.

Jody Faltys, with the Nebraska Independent Living Council shared the same feeling.

"We are concerned about all the advances we’ve made,” Faltys said. That we are going to fall back, that we are going to go back to the dark ages. We don’t want to go back to being silent."

They say the cuts to Medicaid reduced the amount of money their healthcare providers get from the state. Therefore reducing services they rely on.

"To us, healthcare is life or death,” Faltys said. “Medicaid is life or death to many of us.”

One Nebraskan concerned about these changes is Jera Hinkle, mother of Brayden, her 20–year–old son with cerebral palsy.

Hinkle said her family receives a waiver that helps her family take care of Brayden in their home.

"Without the support of the waiver, I don’t even want to know where our family would be,” Hinkle said.

One of the major concerns is that the cuts will push those with disabilities into institutions.

"When we cut payments to providers, we are forcing people back into institutions which are far more costly,” Walz said.

Speaker Peter Seiler said these decisions were made not based on need, but based on money.

"There’s not enough money,” Seiler said. “We’ll cut the lowest group with the least political power."

State Senator Bob Krist opposed the cuts.

"We could have taken money from other places and done a better job,” Krist said.

A statement from Governor Pete Ricketts says the reduction to these services was far less than reductions to other Nebraska agencies and that services for disabled people are a priority.

The organizers urged attendees to pay attention in the 2018 Nebraska legislative elections and vote for senators that support providing these services.