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Mitch McConnell’s Cruel War on People with Disabilities

Disabled people playing dead on McConnell’s floor summed it all up brilliantly. They are showing exactly what will happen if he gets what he wants—and exactly who is to blame.

When Mitch McConnell and his party finally revealed their sleazy Obamacare replacement bill, dozens of protesters from the disability rights group ADAPT barged into his Capitol Hill office. They staged a die-in; some of the protesters crawled out of their wheelchairs onto the floor.

And what does McConnell do? He retracts into his turtle shell and hides while Capitol police literally carry away the protesters.

It’s a perfect dramatization of what is going on in Trump’s America. The health-care-law repeal attempt has been a spiteful crusade by cowards like McConnell and Paul Ryan to destroy fifty years of social and political progress by disabled people.

It’s a perfect dramatization of what is going on in Trump’s America.

Why? Because these Republicans are singularly obsessed with making sure wealthy people get wealthier. One quick means to that end is to reduce people with disabilities to commodities traded on the for-profit healthcare market. And that is most easily accomplished by destroying Medicaid and condemning us all to nursing facilities.

Without an abundant Medicaid program, millions of disabled Americans like me have no choice but to surrender ourselves to institutions. I won’t call them nursing homes. If I was in a nursing facility, I would relinquish my right to make my most basic life decisions. Someone else would decide what and when I eat, when I go to bed, if and when and with whom I can come and go. That’s not a home.

Meanwhile, nursing facility owners get rich by pocketing the Medicaid money that pays nursing home bills.

I’ve managed to stay out of a nursing home because of a program in my state that uses Medicaid funds to pay the wages of people I hire to assist me in my home. I use a motorized wheelchair and I live in a condo near downtown Chicago with my wife, who also is disabled and relies on the same program.

But just like the House repeal bill, the Senate bill imposes harsh new caps on the amount of Medicaid money the federal government will pay states. The Congressional Budget Office reports that the House version would cut $834 billion from Medicaid through fiscal year 2026. A report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which administers Medicaid, says this will put great pressure on state governments to reduce or eliminate programs like the one that keeps my wife and me out of a nursing facility.

But McConnell and Ryan and their apostles simply don’t give a damn about my freedom.

There’s a lot at stake for the millions of disabled Americans who rely on the vitality of Medicaid to live a good life. Defeating the sadistic repeal effort is literally a matter of life or death for us. Disabled people playing dead on McConnell’s floor summed it all up brilliantly. They are showing exactly what will happen if he gets what he wants—and exactly who is to blame.

 

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