Health care advocates for those with disabilities take bus trip - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Health care advocates for those with disabilities take bus trip to Washington D.C.

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) -

Imagine the prospect of losing your independence because health care you depend on is no longer provided. Elderly people and people with disabilities fear that's a real possibility without changes to the proposed health care bill in Congress.

Several from our area boarded a bus with others to Washington D.C. to make others aware of the issues.

When Rocky Fuselier was 19 he was in a diving accident that changed his life forever.

"Broke my neck, it left me pretty much paralyzed from the shoulders down," explained Fuselier.

Now 54 years old, he must have help for daily needs.

"I can't dress myself, I can't bathe myself, things like that. Clean up around in my room or whatever. Basic skills that people take for granted. Without that I would probably be in an institution," he said.

Fuselier is one of three from the Southwest Louisiana Independence Center, called SLIC, who rode a bus 25 hours to Washington, D.C. to confront Congress about the needs of people with disabilities.

"They're saying the way the bill is now, it would cut Medicaid services for people with disabilities," he said.

They joined others, some of whom depend on Medicaid, to voice concerns about the Senate health care bill and whether it will cut desperately needed funding - funding that is the lifeblood of SLIC and people served there, who struggle to stay independent.

"People don't never want to go into any type of institution," he said.

Gwynn Houston with SLIC says though they were not able to meet directly with Louisiana's senators, they met with the senators'  representatives and went to the National Republican Committee Office. She feels the trip was a success.

"We wanted to let these folks know that if the bill passes, that is pending right now, if it passes in its entirety without any changes or alterations, then within a few years, the people we serve, many of them will have to be institutionalized, go into group homes," she said.

They ask people to make elected leaders aware of the concerns and needs of the frail and the chronically ill, and they urge people to remember this:

"If you don't have a disability now, just wait a few years from now and you'll have one. Because as we grow older we will become disabled in many ways," said Houston. 

The group received national coverage during the bus tour from CNN and Time.

For a digest of the most recent version of the Senate bill, click HERE.

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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