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Disability Advocates Arrested for Protesting Medicaid Cuts Outside Sen. McConnell's Office


On Thursday, a group of disability advocates with national disability rights organization ADAPT gathered outside of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) office to protest cuts to Medicaid proposed by GOP Senators in a bill released earlier that day.

“The Senate is trying to pass the American Health Care Act bill, and that is going to drastically affect people with disabilities,” Marilee Adamski-Smith, a spokesperson for ADAPT, told The Mighty. “We won’t be able to live in our own homes, we’ll be forced into nursing homes. So this is a really important bill we want them to look at and make sure that this does not get passed.”

Since the protest began, multiple arrests have been made. According to video footage being shared on Twitter, several protestors have been removed from their wheelchairs and dropped on the ground.

The GOP’s health care plan proposes cutting $834 billion from Medicaid as well as ending Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion program. “The American Health Care Act caps and significantly cuts Medicaid which will greatly reduce access to medical care and home and community-based services for elderly and disabled Americans who will either die or be forced into institutions,” Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer taking part in the protest, said in a statement. “Our lives and liberty shouldn’t be stolen to give a tax break to the wealthy. That’s truly un-American.”

The protest falls on the 18th anniversary of the Olmstead v. L.C. A Supreme Court ruling, which made segregating people based on their disability illegal and established disabled people’s right to live in their communities. “Not only will AHCA take away our freedom — that lost freedom will also cost Americans much more money,” Dawn Russell, an ADAPT organizer from Colorado, said. “The nursing facilities that people will be forced into are much more expensive than community-based services that AHCA would cut.”

Beyond today, ADAPT will continue to protest the bill and any cuts made to Medicaid. “We’ll be working in our own hometowns throughout the nation to make sure our senators and representatives hear our voices,” Adamski-Smith said. “Please call [your] senators and tell them how this will affect millions of people with disabilities and seniors… We want to contribute to society and we won’t be able to do that if we’re forced into nursing homes and other institutions.”