STRAIGHT TALK: Medicaid Matters

By Parker Glick

“Medicaid Matters!” 
“Would you rather go to jail, than die in a nursing home?” 
“No Cuts! No Caps!”

These statements were just some of the many chants that were commonly used to encourage legislators and their respective voters to not repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this past summer. They probably sound familiar whether you’re a part of the disability community or an avid viewer of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.

From calls, handwritten letters, emails – to direct nonviolent civil rights disobedience, the disability community came together, nationwide, to educate as many as possible on the vital proposed changes.

You may have seen that our efforts were productive. On Tuesday, July 25th, the US Senate Republicans were astonished – to say the least – with a plot twist during the vote. The US Senate Democrats, already against the repeal and replacement of ACA, were accompanied by Republican Senators Susan Collins, John McCain and Lisa Murkowski. The final vote was enough to not pass the proposed bill.

Being just under 30 years old and a person with significant physical disability, I am proud to share my experience of advocating with the renowned grassroots organization for the civil and human rights of people with disabilities – ADAPT.

Every year, for the last three years, I’ve participated in the National Council on Independent Living’s annual conference. Each time, and throughout my time within the Independent Living Movement, I had heard many great things about ADAPT. Not just their accomplishments, but the exhilarating feelings brought by being amongst the community of disability rights activists.

I always thought, “I have to be a part of that. Those issues affect me directly, and my disability community siblings who cannot be a part of such activities.” But, money, as many can probably relate, got in my way. Until, the July action of 2017.

“Do you want to get arrested?” Many had asked me that, following with a rundown of what to expect from this experience. I didn’t even know if I was ready for this – my first ADAPT action. But I felt as though this was finally my chance! So I went for it. My anxiety from hardly knowing anyone, and being a novice ADAPTer, had dissolved.

Entering the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, I simply followed suit. I tried joining familiar faces. Before I could, I was met by a veteran in the ADAPT world who immediately invited me to join them. And from there, my adrenaline started to rush!

Things quickly escalated. From finding friends to being given the ADAPT protocol for when law enforcement might intervene – all while advocating against the proposed healthcare bill.

Leaving the nonviolent protest under arrest meant more than just paying a $50 fine, it meant I’d experienced camaraderie like never before.

I’m not going to get further into the action, but I would like to address the importance of participating within our chosen communities. The disability community is known as the largest minority. How well-known is it though? Disability doesn’t discriminate on any account (age, race, gender [identity], socioeconomic status, etc.) The basic human rights – that advocates have fought for and continue to fight for – will serve people in the short and long-term.

The future is often correlated with advance-ments in technology; more specifically the Internet. This is where young people come in. So many folks might be interested in participating in advocacy efforts, but don’t actually want to be on the “front line.” Plot twist! The front line isn’t just a physical space. There are many leadership opportunities that can take place from your home or local community.

Our involvement in advocacy, especially as young people, is imperative. We are seen as creative individuals able to keep up with virtual advancements in the social justice movements – which oftentimes initiate face-to-face interactions. And, there is always room at the table for those who are genuinely passionate about the main objective: equal access for all.

Parker Glick is a self-advocate who works at the State Independent Living Council in Decatur, GA. Glick is also a member of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities.

To read the entire magazine, see below:

Download pdf version of Making a Difference Spring 2017    Download Large Print Version of Making a Difference Summer 2017