TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Frances Isbell has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disorder that has left her unable to walk or even roll over in bed. But Ms. Isbell has a personal care assistant through Medicaid, and the help allowed her to go to law school at the University of Alabama here. She will graduate next month.
She hopes to become a disability rights lawyer — “I’d love to see her on the Supreme Court someday,” her aide, Christy Robertson, said, tearing up with emotion as Ms. Isbell prepared to study for the bar exam in her apartment last week — but staying independent will be crucial to her professional future.
“The point of these programs is to give people options and freedom,” said Ms. Isbell, 24, whose family lives a few hours away in Gadsden.
The care she gets is an optional benefit under federal Medicaid law, which means each state can decide whether to offer it and how much to spend. Optional services that she and millions of other Medicaid beneficiaries receive would be particularly at risk under Republican proposals to scale back Medicaid as part of legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.