On anniversary of ADA, Senate vote threatens independence of disabled

On Tuesday, July 25, Access Living staff in Washington, DC for the annual National Council on Independent Living Conference, joined hundreds of others to protest against the U.S. Senate's passage of the motion to proceed on a healthcare reform bill. The current healthcare bills in the Senate, both the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation ACT (ORRA) bill, and the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), would devastate the lives of millions of people. Under BCRA, $800 billion would be cut from Medicaid, decimating healthcare for seniors, children, and people with disabilities.  People with disabilities would lose services to live in independently in their own homes, would experience inflation of the cost of care, and would see limited or no access to specialized services and essential health benefits.  Also, people with pre-existing conditions would lose the protections and affordability guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act.

“The bills put forward by the Senate leadership are not about healthcare. These bills are about destroying Medicaid,” said Amber Smock, Access Living’s Director of Advocacy.  “Medicaid cuts mean the end of independence, the end of quality healthcare, and devastation for people with disabilities.”

The U.S. Senate’s vote to proceed with healthcare legislation came on the eve of the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). On July 26, 1990, President George HW Bush signed into the civil rights legislation that gives people with disabilities the right to participate and engage in their communities on a level playing field.  The ADA includes an integration mandate which says people with disabilities have the right to receive services in the most integrated setting.  Since passage of the ADA, the disability community has used the law as a tool to move people out of segregated institutions and into their own homes. 
The Better Care Reconciliation Act, and the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act are insults and blows to the spirit and the force of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Twenty-seven years after passage of a law intended to support and empower the independence of people with disabilities, leadership in the US Senate is pushing legislation that will steal our healthcare, our independence, and our lives.

Despite the setback of the ‘motion to proceed’ disability advocates continue to fight and resist against efforts to roll back health and measures that support the independence of people with disabilities. On Wednesday, July 25, following the ‘motion to proceed’ vote, a vote on healthcare legislation failed in the Senate. On July 26, the Americans with Disabilities Act Anniversary, a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed. Access Living and the community will continue to advocate until Congress presents a healthcare option the protects and builds community services and that promotes the independence of people with disabilities.

For more information, contact Gary Arnold at 312-640-2199 (voice), garnold@accessliving.org (email).