By Tom Curry National affairs writer
updated 10/6/2009 10:10:00 AM ET 2009-10-06T14:10:00

Claim: Democratic reform proposals would help people on Social Security Disability.

People who qualify for Social Security Disability benefits also get covered by the Medicare program after a two-year waiting period. In 2008, 7.4 million disabled people were covered by Medicare. But during the two-year waiting period, some of the disabled can’t qualify for the Medicaid program for poor people because their incomes are too high. Will an insurance overhaul help such people?

Fact or fiction?
A little of both. Democratic reform proposals would likely both help and hurt disabled people. On the one hand, the Senate Finance Committee’s proposed cuts in Medicare spending, $409 billion over the 2010-2019 period, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would shrink benefits for some disabled people, especially those in Medicare Advantage plans. But Medicare expert John Holohan of the Urban Institute said no one expects hospitals and doctors to stop serving Medicare beneficiaries, even with the proposed spending cuts. And he said the new subsidies for the uninsured would enable some disabled people to buy coverage during the two-year waiting period before they qualify for Medicare — so they’d be better off.

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