Medicaid cuts would be devastating to people with disabilities, local activists say

Jun 23, 2017

Credit Colleen Flanagan

About 20 Rochester area disability rights activists were arrested in Washington, D.C. Thursday as they protested the U.S. Senate's health care bill.

The disability organization ADAPT staged a "die-in" at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office to protest proposed cuts to Medicaid.

Stephanie Woodward, director of advocacy for the Center for Disability Rights, said she and 19 other Rochester protesters were removed from the Senate Office Building and held by Capitol police for about nine hours.

Woodward said the deep Medicaid cuts proposed in the Senate measure would be devastating to people with disabilities who rely on the funding to lead independent and active lives.

"And for me, it means a lot because I grew up on Medicaid. My parents couldn't afford to insure their disabled daughter. I wouldn't be a lawyer today if I didn't have Medicaid covering me for the first 25 years of my life; covering all my surgeries and wheelchairs and everything else."

The protesters were headed back to Rochester Friday morning, but Woodward said they're not going to remain silent.

"Today we're gonna take a nap and a rest, but if we don't see changes, then we will continue to fight. We are hoping that given all of the feedback the Senate received yesterday on this bill they will reconsidering and hopefully come back with a more balanced bill, but if not, you can bet that ADAPT will keep fighting for our lives."

Woodward said Medicaid cuts could mean that people with disabilities who now live independently would be forced into nursing homes.