When the Senate leadership announced the results of their secret health care policy deliberations on Thursday, June 22, members of a national disability rights organization ADAPT were there to protest, staging a “die-in” outside of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s office in response to the health care bill’s proposed cuts to Medicaid.
Forty-three protestors were arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police when they refused to vacate the premises. Videos and photographs of the disabled activists being carried away have gone viral on social media, and the protest has received significant mainstream media coverage.
The Senate bill that is the target of the ADAPT protests retains much of the structure of the House bill that passed in May, the American Health Care Act, but makes core changes that will affect both Medicaid and the private insurance marketplace. Like the House bill, the Senate version caps Medicaid funding to either a specific amount per person or as a block grant to states. This is expected to lead to reduced federal Medicaid spending, forcing states to either pick up the slack or make cuts to the scope and services of Medicaid coverage.
“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,” said an ADAPT organizer and protestor, Bruce Darling, in an ADAPT press release. “Our lives and liberty shouldn’t be stolen to give a tax break to the wealthy. That’s truly un-American.”
In addition to the Medicaid cuts, the Senate bill makes a number of other changes to the American Care Act (Obamacare), which would allow private insurance companies to sell plans offering less coverage. The Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday that average premium prices would be higher under the proposed Senate bill than under the ACA until 2020, then they would likely drop lower, but those lower premiums would also purchase less coverage, increasing out of pocket costs for consumers. The CBO also estimated that 22 million Americans would lose insurance coverage as a result of the new legislation.
Along with disability rights organizations, many major medical associations have come out in opposition to the Senate bill. The American Association of Medical Colleges wrote that: “We are extremely disappointed by the Senate bill released today. Despite promises to the contrary, it will leave millions of people without health coverage, and others with only bare-bones plans that will be insufficient to properly address their needs.”
The Senate leadership is trying to get a vote on the health care bill this week, before Congress is adjourned for the July 4th recess. They are already making changes to the bill as the leadership tries to gather enough votes for it to pass.
ADAPT looks to stay active in protesting the bill, and they have already supported additional protests aimed at individual senators.
For those interested in where their senators stand on the health care bill, the New York Times has an continually updating chart detailing the present position of each Senator in respect to the legislation.
Visit United Spinal’s Trumpcare Needs to be Stopped action page for more information, including how you can advocate for better health care.
This Washington Post video shows demonstrators being forcibly removed from Sen. McConnell’s office: