Why Disability Rights Activists Put Their Lives on the Line to Protest Trumpcare

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There are a lot of people to thank for last week’s failure to pass the Obamacare replacement and repeal bill in the Senate, including the three Republican senators who broke with party lines to vote against the bill. But the role that activists played—particularly women and advocates for disability rights—cannot be overstated. For weeks, members of disability rights organization ADAPT have been literally putting their lives on the line, risking arrest and being dragged from their wheelchairs, to protest the draconian measure that threatens their lives as they know them.

On this week’s episode of Big Time Dicks, Jezebel features editor Kelly Stout and I talked to ADAPT’s Carrie Anne Lucas about her efforts protesting Trumpcare and what’s at stake for the disabled community if it comes to pass.


One of the scariest aspects of the healthcare repeal and replacement bill is that it slashes funding for Medicaid, the largest public funder of long-term care for Americans. “Most middle-class people end up on Medicaid at the end of the life if they need long-term care,” Lucas explained. “And most disabled people who need day-to-day assistance end up on Medicaid because it’s the only payer that will fund attendant care that allows us to get out of bed, that allows us to cook our meals—I mean, for me, my attendant helps me get out of bed, take a shower, get dressed, helps me with grooming, helps me with breakfast. And then I go to work. Without Medicaid, I could not work.”

In addition to protesting the healthcare repeal and replacement bill, ADAPT has been fighting Republican budget cut proposals and block-granting Medicaid, which would cap federal contributions and turn the program over to states. “With the budget, there’s discussions of great cuts. Block-granting is a disaster, because even though we are a small number of the enrollees on Medicaid, people who use long-term care services—we cost the most for services, so when they start cutting funds, our services get cut, which means we can’t remain in our homes,” she said.

If Medicaid funding shrinks, more and more people with intellectual and physical disabilities will be forced into state-funded institutions, where they lose the ability to work and live independently. Describing horrific instance of sexual and physical abuse, Lucas explained too that “so many people experience abuse and neglect” when sent to nursing homes and other institutions.

“When you start moving tens of thousands of people into institutions because of Medicaid block-granting, the situation will be much worse,” she said. “Medicaid is a pathway to live in the community.”


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Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is a senior reporter at Jezebel.

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