Disabled Protesters Stage 'Die-In' over Senate Health Care Bill Rollout

Representatives said they were gathered for what they called a "die-in" to protest the cutbacks in federal support for Medicaid.

While the dramatic scene unfolded, Democratic senators lead by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) blasted the bill as "heartless" and a "wolf in sheep's clothing".

One of the participants in the protest, Alison Barkoff, said that this health care bill would give tax cuts to wealthy Americans and it would be done at the expense of disabled people. "Cops were there within a few minutes and started picking people up off the floor that resisted arrest". The demonstrators filled the hallway outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"Right now 60 disability rights advocates are staging a die-in in front of Senator McConnell's office to protest cuts to Medicaid which will eliminate home and community-based services that have secured disabled people's freedom", the group said in a Facebook post.

Three officers carried each protester down the hallway, one of whom continued to chant as police removed him. The new health care bill, titled the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017", would cut back the expansion of Medicaid, a program that provides health care to millions of low-income Americans. Republicans aim to circumvent a committee hearing and vote by bringing the bill directly to the floor before July 4. They say they will die without Medicaid.

The protesters staged a "die-in" in front of the office, with numerous protesters in wheelchairs removing themselves from the chairs then lying down on the floor.

The statement also stated the group's protest falls on the 18th anniversary of Olmstead v. LC - the 1999 Supreme Court Ruling that first recognized disabled people's right to live in communities rather than institutions. "Many of the people with disabilities were forcible removed".

  • Larry Hoffman