Capitol Police arrested eighty-nine disability rights activists on Monday following the group’s occupation of the Cannon House Office Building rotunda.
The disability rights group ADAPT staged the event to protest Representative Paul Ryan’s Medicaid cuts, which would force people with disabilities to live in nursing homes rather than in their own houses.
Additionally, the House-passed budget resolution would turn Medicaid into block grants and reduce the program’s spending by more than $700 billion over ten years.
Combined with other Medicaid cuts at the state level, the protesters said, the block grant plan could restrict funding so much that people with disabilities would not have enough public support to be able to live independently.
The activists were charged with “unlawful conduct,” a misdemeanour offense. Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, said most of the protesters will “probably be released unless they have other outstanding offenses on their records,” Politico reports.
Nursing home residents in Illinois also turned out to protest proposed Medicaid cuts. Governor Pat Quinn’s budget reduces Lee Manor’s funding by $500,000, a crushing blow that would cut staff and services at the nursing center.
“This is a family community,” said Julia Conkin, 39, a wheelchair-bound resident at the center who spoke to a crowd of more than 150 people at a rally Monday. If the cuts are passed “it’s going to feel like I’m at a cold, business place instead of my home.”
Quinn’s plans include cutting Medicaid by 6 percent, or $70 million in state funds, which would result in a federal match of an additional $70 million also being wiped out. Nearly 7,000 healthcare jobs would be lost, according to Pat Cornstock, executive director of Health Care Council of Illinois.
“It doesn’t make sense to us that the cuts are made on the backs of the elderly,” Comstock shouted to the crowd, which held colorful signs and frequently chanted “Stop the cuts” as they residents, staff, and family members sat outside the rear of the nursing home.
New Jersey firefighters took to the streets Monday to protest budget cuts and a recent reduction in official fire department staff size.