On Tuesday, June 6, about 150 advocates, representing close to 30 different organizations rallied at the Thompson Center to protect Medicaid services that support the independence of people with disabilities.
It is estimated that the American Health Care Act, passed earlier this spring by the U.S. House of Representatives, will cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid over the next ten years. This translates to $24 billion in Federal funding for Illinois, which provides nearly 500,000 people with disabilities with the supports that allow them to live independently.
The Chicago rally was one of seven rallies around the country, organized under the banner, “Don’t Cap My Care.” Thousands of advocates spoke out in support of strong Medicaid services that protect the lives of people with disabilities, keep them out of institutions, and allow them to live independently in integrated communities.
In Chicago, Illinois Representative Greg Harris, Representative Mary Flowers, Representative Will Guzzardi, and Representative Theresa Mah, as well as
Senator Heather Steans all participated and spoke at rally. Also representatives from Congresswoman Shakowsky’s office, and from U.S. Senator Duckworth’s office, both spoke at the rally.
Speaking about the threats, Leslie Combs from Jan Schawkowsky’s office said, “Cuts to Medicaid are not only cruel, they are unnecessary.”
In addition to the political representatives, many people who will be directly impacted by Medicaid cuts spoke, including Curtis Harris, who is on a waiting list to receive services in community-based settings. Currently, tens of thousands of people are on that list. If Medicaid is cut, the waiting list will grow and waiting times will grow longer. “There is uncertainty about the future of services,” Harris said. “People with developmental disabilities may be forced into institutions, and people with mental illness may be forced into more expensive services, like hospitals and emergency rooms.”
Halima Jabulani of the Arc of Illinois spoke at the rally. “We are a civilization. It’s time for us to act civilized,” Jubulani said.
Organizational sponsors of the rally included: Access Living, Alliance for Community Services, Anixter Center, The Arc of Illinois, Autism Speaks Illinois, BNICEH, Caring Across Generations, Chicago ADAPT, The Chicagoland Leadership Council, Communities United, Crosspoint Human Services, Ecker Center for Mental Health, Equip for Equality, Everthrive Illinois, Friends Who March, Health and Disability Advocates, Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, Healthcare Rights Coalition, Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, IMPRUVE, Indivisible Chicago, IPADD UNITE, Legal Council for Health Justice, Mental Health Summit, Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Next Steps NFP, Planned Parenthood Illinois, Progress Center for Independent Living, Protect Our Care Illinois [coalition group], Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters (S.I.B.S.), Thresholds.
For more information about the national “Don’t Cap My Care” effort, visit this website: https://medicaid.publicrep.org/feature/june-6th-actions/