Disability advocates protest outside McConnell’s office over health care bill

Posted at 3:13 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 15:13:13-04

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Several dozen protesters gathered and chanted outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Thursday after he unveiled the Republican health care bill.

“Don’t touch Medicaid, save our liberty,” the protesters chanted outside his office.

The protest was organized by ADAPT, a national disability rights organization. In a statement, they said about 60 protesters gathered for a “die-in” to fight back on the health care bill, which will drastically cut back federal support of Medicaid.

“The American Health Care Act caps and significantly cuts Medicaid which will greatly reduce access to medical care and home and community based services for elderly and disabled Americans who will either die or be forced into institutions,” Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer taking part in the protest, said in a statement. “Our lives and liberty shouldn’t be stolen to give a tax break to the wealthy. That’s truly un-American.”

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.

Reporters from other news outlets tweeted that protesters were being carried out by Capitol Police.

Capitol Hill police told CNN they were “still processing the scene” and would release a statement later Thursday on arrests and charges. McConnell’s office referred to Capitol Police for comment.

Alison Barkoff, protest organizer and director of advocacy for the Center for Public Representation, told CNN, “This is a tax cut to the wealthiest Americans on the backs of people with disability.”

“These are literally people outside who are taking over McConnell’s office who are on ventilators and wheelchairs,” she said. “Many of the people with disabilities were forcible removed. They were literally carried from the space out to a separate area.”