By Peter V. Berns, CEO
Peter Berns at the U.S. Capitol with (left to right) Sen. Cory Booker; Janel George, National Women’s Law Center; Rep. John Lewis; Sen. Brian Schatz; and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
This week, I had the immeasurable honor of sitting on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and talking with Senator Cory Booker and Representative John Lewis about our fight to save our health care and access to community living under the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Over the course of our discussion, we were joined by Senators Brian Schatz, Kirsten Gillibrand, Chris Murphy, Chris Coons, and Jeff Merkley.
It was an amazing and inspiring evening — even as we feared a looming vote in the Senate on legislation that threatens the health, independence, and lives of millions of Americans with disabilities.
Over the last few weeks, from coast to coast we’ve seen people with disabilities and their allies speaking up and taking action– including chapters of The Arc and their members. Among the many recent highlights from our network:
Virginia chapters of The Arc joined advocates in Washington, DC for a rally on June 6.
- Activist Bryan Dooley wrote about his health care advocacy in the Huffington Post, and urged more people to come forward and share their stories, as he did in a video with The Arc.
- The Jennings family traveled from Lancaster County, PA to speak at a #SaveMedicaid rally in Washington, DC. The family was featured in a Kaiser Health News article about the rally that was widely redistributed including in U.S. News & World Report, CNN, and Bill Moyers.
- Marta Connor spoke at a press conference at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC about what Medicaid means to her daughter, Caroline, and their family.
- Chapters of The Arc and their activists placed letters to the editor in their local newspapers in Alaska, Indiana, New Jersey, Missouri, and North Dakota, and influenced media coverage of the Senate bill, including in Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
- Beyond media, chapters met with their Senators to put a face on the devastating impact of proposed Medicaid cuts, organized on social media, and took to the streets from Washington state to Illinois to Pennsylvania to Virginia.
While that Senate vote didn’t happen this week, our fight continues. Senators will travel home for a Fourth of July recess with some hoping to vote on a revised bill when they return. Now is the time to ramp up our advocacy even more – keep up the calls to your Senators.
Attend community events and be visible with your support of Medicaid – showing up matters. July 4th is Independence Day, and Medicaid provides independence for millions of people. Make signs and bring friends and family to parades and other community events. Take pictures and share them on social media to encourage others to get involved to protect Medicaid and stop this dangerous bill. Additionally, some Senators may host public town hall meetings during the recess. Check out this resource listing scheduled town hall meetings across the country (it is regularly updated) and find out if your Senators are hosting one.
As Representative John Lewis said to us on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, “Many of us are called at a time to be witness, witness to the truth. You have to tell the truth and speak truth to power. You have to find a way to get in the way. To get in trouble. Good trouble. Necessary trouble, to change things. So I appeal to each and every one of you to go out and to do your very best. If you fail to act, then history may not be kind to us. We cannot let the American people down.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Please #JoinOurFight and take action over the Fourth of July Congressional recess to #SaveMedicaid.