People with disabilities held a “live theater” rally yesterday next to Federal Plaza in New York, to protest the Republican-proposed American Healthcare Act.
The bill, also known as Trumpcare, is projected to leave 24 million more Americans uninsured than the Affordable Healthcare Act, and drastically reduce funding for Medicaid, a program that helps those who can’t afford to pay for medical care.
“I wouldn’t be alive today without Medicaid,” said one man at the rally, who declined to give his name.
During the rally, people with disabilities held cardboard blocks with the reasons why they need Medicaid written across the front. Wealthy billionaires then “stole” the Medicaid blocks and built a wall, which the people with disabilities knocked down.
The rally was organized by New York-based resistance group Rise and Resist, and was held outside the NYC Federal Building, where Medicaid offices are located.
“We are here today to protest the Republican plan to destroy healthcare. One of the worst parts of the Republican plan is Medicaid block grants, which cap the amount of money a state gets. When the state runs out of money, people run of out of Medicaid. It is estimated that block grants will cut Medicaid by 35% in ten years. Can we stand for that? No! Will we tolerate that? No! Will we fight back? Yes!” said Mark Milano, a member of Rise and Resist, speaking at the event.
People with disabilities spoke about the reasons they need Medicaid, including for autism care, wheelchairs, physical therapy and home attendants, radiation treatment for cancer patients, and housing subsidies for people with disabilities.
Michele, an activist from New York, believes ableism is at the root of the current crisis. “There’s a false idea that disabled people are inferior because they are disabled. That is used socially and systemically to oppress us and it has to end. Disabled people count like everyone else. We need to end social and systematic ableism because disabled people are just as worthy as love and being treated as human beings as everyone else.”