Dozens of people with disabilities were arrested on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, including Marca Bristo, CEO and President of Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, in protest of the Republican proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Better Care Reconciliation Act would have cut mandatory services covered by the ACA including maternity care, emergency room visits and mental health treatment. It would have also reduced Medicaid funding by an estimated $765 billion by 2026, a service which 30% of all people with disabilities depend on for essential healthcare needs.
The sit-in, organized by the disability rights group, ADAPT, was staged outside the Hart Senate Office where protesters chanted, “We’d rather go to jail than die without Medicaid” and “Save our liberty, don’t cut Medicaid.”
Once the news broke that Republicans had voted to advance the proposal, U.S. Capitol Police began arresting protesters “after refusing to cease and desist with their unlawful demonstration activities.” They were ticketed and released.
The proposed plan would have reversed the Obama administration’s expansion of Medicaid, and would have capped Medicaid funding. Currently, the government matches state Medicaid expenditures unlimitedly, so the Better Care Reconciliation Act would have put an enormous burden on state budgets.
State home and community-based services are considered optional under Medicaid and would have likely been cut first. People reliant on those services, which include transportation and caregiving, could have lost their right to live independently–a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In the end, a last-ditch effort to repeal the ACA failed to pass the Senate early this morning.