Jason DaSilva’s “The Disability Trap” Is Beautiful and Infuriating


The acclaimed documentary filmmaker and New Mobility’s 2014 Person of the Year, Jason DaSilva, just released a powerful new documentary in collaboration with The New York Times. The Disability Trap explores the Medicaid insurance system and how state-to-state disparities can limit freedom of movement for people with disabilities.

It is an intensely personal story. DaSilva, who has primary progressive multiple sclerosis, relies on New York Medicaid to fund the 24/7 attendant care that allows him to live independently. Recently, he and his wife got a divorce, and she relocated to Austin, Texas, with their young son. The film follows DaSilva’s ultimately-failed attempt to secure similar services in Texas so that he could co-parent his son while maintaining his livelihood.

Under the Texas Medicaid system, DaSilva finds that the only way he would be able to obtain 24/7 care is by living in a nursing home. He’s faced with a choice that no parent should ever have to make. “Living at home allows me to pursue my dreams – my filmmaking, my non-profit and being a voice for people with disabilities. Losing this independence would be the end of my filmmaking, the end of my activism and the end of me. But losing my son has made the past year and a half impossible,” DaSilva says.

All of this is because of the state-to-state variance in how well Medicaid is funded and, in turn, what is covered. “The disparity amounts to institutionalized discrimination against aging and disabled people, and it prevents me from truly having a choice about where I can live,” he concludes.

It’s a heart-wrenching, powerful and infuriating story, one that shines a glaring light on the impact of the way America administers essential health services for those who most need them. The Disability Trap should be required viewing for every politician in the country.

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