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Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the Passing of Katie Beckett


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Katie Beckett was a quiet hero and an inadvertent pioneer in the civil rights movement for people with disabilities. When she was only three years old, her family and her doctors wanted her to live at home despite her extraordinary medical support needs. At that time, Medicaid would not cover the cost of her medical services in the community -- only in the hospital. Thanks to her mother Julie's tireless advocacy, in 1982 Medicaid policy fundamentally shifted to allow people with significant health care needs and disabilities to receive care at home.

Over the past thirty years, the "Katie Beckett Waiver,' a Medicaid program, has provided over a half million children with disabilities the chance to live at home with their families and participate in their communities instead of living in hospitals and institutions.

As a result of this change, Katie was able to grow up as a typical young woman living with a disability -- going to college, working as a writer and public speaker, and living an independent life -- and in the course of her journey, Katie inspired a whole generation of young people with disabilities and their families.

Katie will be missed by many across the country, but her determined advocacy, and that of her family, has changed countless lives for the better. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her parents, Julie and Mark, and all in the disability community who mourn her passing.

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