The Health Cost of Fighting For Healthcare

August 10, 2017 | Emily Kovalesky, 2017 AAPD Summer Intern

In July, there was a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As an AAPD Intern placed in the United States Senate I could not have been more in the thick of things when the vote took place. Because of the possible repeal and replace, repeal only, and skinny bill many people faced losing insurance coverage, increased costs, and loss of Medicaid. The energy that week was intense. I was surrounded by protesters, friends, colleagues, and more. I was going in to work early and leaving late. I brought pizzas to ADAPTers camping out. I attended the NCIL rally on the Capitol lawn. I attended the ADA Anniversary press conference that 4 senators spoke at. I watched debates in the senate gallery until 11pm and then stayed up until 2am the night of the actual vote. I did everything I could to try to make a difference in the fight for healthcare. I still am because I know the fight is not over, just on temporary slowdown. Because of this, my body is in a highly sensitive state.

What people don’t tell you is how tiring it is from a disability standpoint. The people fighting for their lives are the people who do not necessarily have the energy to be doing so. For some people in the office it was just another day of chaos, maybe a little more emotional than usual. For the other interns in my senate office it was just an exciting week to be working. For me…it was draining, exhausting, mostly depressing, but mandatory. I could not sit back and take in the moments as an important political debate. I had to be as involved as possible because, not only my care but, many of my closest friends and allies’ care was on the line. Being involved and fighting for what I need meant using up energy that my body didn’t necessarily have. As someone with chronic health conditions, including genetic and autoimmune disorders, my body does not necessarily take well to being pushed. But, when you are fighting for your rights, you have to push. Everyone that week was pushing. People I know who were in the same health state as me, pushed to their limit. This included both physical and mental health limits. Despite limits being crossed, people had no choice but to keep fighting and face the consequences from their body later on. It is quite ironic that some faced requiring more medical care because of the fear of losing their medical care. Rights should not come at the cost of health. Healthcare rights should definitely not come at the cost of health.


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Emily Kovalesky is a 2017 AAPD Summer Intern placed with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).

We Did It! Harmful Healthcare Repeal Efforts Fail

July 28, 2017

Late last night the latest Senate healthcare repeal effort – known as the “Skinny Repeal” – failed to pass, bringing an end (for now) to these harmful healthcare repeal efforts. After Senator McCain cast the final deciding vote, Majority Leader McConnell announced that the Senate would be moving on to the National Defense Authorization Act and other legislative efforts.

This victory was the result of tireless advocacy efforts and protests from the disability community and our allies. Our community made a difference by rallying together. You made a difference.

Thank You!

We know these past few months have been a whirlwind of various repeal bills and we greatly appreciate your continued advocacy to save Medicaid and other essential health services by keeping the Affordable Care Act in place.

Please also take a moment to thank all of the Senators who voted no, especially Senators Collins, McCain, and Murkowski for protecting our care.

It would be naive to think this fight is over for good, but take some time to rest and celebrate this victory. You can count on AAPD and our allies to closely monitor and fight against any activities on Capitol Hill that threaten the lives and liberty of people with disabilities.


Action Alert! We’re not out of the woods yet on Healthcare

Please continue visiting, calling, tweeting, and emailing your Senators!

July 20, 2017

Thank you so much for all of your advocacy over the past few weeks to protest the American Health Care Act and Better Care Reconciliation Act – together we sent the message loud and clear that we will not sit idly by as our healthcare and services are stripped away. Your advocacy made a difference!

Unfortunately, the Senate is still not listening. The effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and harm Medicaid is back again with two new versions.

The Senate’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA) and a new bill, the “Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act” (ORRA), are being readied for a vote next week. It is unclear which bill the Senate will move on at this point, but we expect a “motion to proceed” sometime next week — likely Tuesday or Wednesday. These bills are harmful to people with disabilities for many reasons.

  • The ORRA cuts taxes on the rich by removing health care from the poor and middle class
  • The ORRA would eliminate health care coverage for 32 million people by 2026; 17 million by next year (Congressional Budget Office)
  • The ORRA would increase health care plan premiums by at least 100%
  • The ORRA stops all Medicaid expansion at the end of 2019 (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
  • The BCRA guts Medicaid by cutting over $700 billion
  • Both bills make it harder to provide home and community based services by eliminating the Community First Choice option for Medicaid
  • Both bills eliminate the protections against discrimination for pre-existing conditions
  • Both bills eliminate the requirement for essential health benefits (which include prescription drugs, mental health services, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and devices, and more)
Bar graph developed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to highlight how ACA Repeal-Without-Replace Would Lead to 32 Million Losing Coverage and Individual Market Collapse. The increase in uninsured would be 17 million the first year after the bill is enacted, 27 million after three years, and 32 million by 2026. Premiums would increase by 25% the first year after the bill is enacted, by 50% after three years, and by 100% by 2026. The share of people living in areas with no individual market insurers would be 10% the first year after the bill is enacted, 50% after three years, and 75% by 2026.

ACA Repeal-Without-Replace Would Lead to 32 Million Losing Coverage and Individual Market Collapse (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)


Vertical bar graph produced by the Congressional Buget Office to show the Net Effects of the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017 on the Budget Deficit. The repeal of Medicaid expansion woudl cut Medicaid funding by $842 billion. Termination of subsidies for nongroup health insurance would decrease the budget deficit by $454 billion due to cutting tax credits and selected coverage provisions. Reduced collections of penalty payments from employers and uninsured peopel would add $210 billion to the budget deficit. Repeal of taxes on high-income people, the annual fee imposed on health insurers, and excise taxes enacted under the ACA would increase the budget deficit by $613 billion. Overall the ORRA would reduce the budget deficit by $473 billion.

Net Effects of the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017 on the Budget Deficit (Congressional Budget Office)



Take Action!

Everyone needs to continue visiting, calling, tweeting, and emailing their Senators to tell them to vote no on the motion to proceed to consider these bills. All Senators must understand the damage this bill will do to the lives and liberty of people with disabilities and their families. We are grateful for all the advocacy you have already done – it has been effective. Please, keep it up!


Contact your Senators

The message is clear:

“Senator _____ must reject any bill that causes large coverage losses, ends the Medicaid expansion, caps and cuts the Medicaid program, or guts critical protections for people with health conditions.”

Toolkit to ADAPTandRESIST to SaveMedicaid – ADAPT

Focus on telling stories when you meet with, call, or contact your Senators. Write stories or record brief 60-90 second videos about you, your child, your parent, your relatives, or your friends who have a disability and need the support of Medicaid and health care. Include pictures. Share these stories on Facebook and Twitter and ask your friends and family to do the same. Our Senators need to see the human face of Medicaid.

The most effective outreach is to meet with your Senator (or their staff) in-person. When you do so, share your story of how access to health care and home and community-based services are important to you or your loved ones with disabilities. Those stories will particularly be impactful.

Contacting Congress allows you to easily search for your Senators and access information on their D.C. offices.


Engage your Senators through Social Media

Tweet your Senators and use the hashtags #SaveMedicaid, #NoCutsNoCaps, #ProtectOurCare, #ADAPTandRESIST, #KeepAmericaCovered, and/or #CoverageMatters

Sample Tweets:

[insert your Senator’s Twitter handle] Over 10 million people with disabilities rely on #Medicaid for healthcare coverage. Please – #ProtectOurCare & #SaveMedicaid.

[insert your Senator’s Twitter handle] Don’t allow insurers to discriminate against people w/ disabilities because of pre-existing conditions. #ProtectOurCare

[insert your Senator’s Twitter handle] The #BCRA is a threat the life, liberty, and independence of people with disabilities. #ProtectOurCare #SaveMedicaid

[insert your Senator’s Twitter handle] Medicaid provides essential services to millions of people with disabilities. #SaveMedicaid #NoCutsNoCaps

[insert your Senator’s Twitter handle] Repeal without a replacement is not an option! #SaveMedicaid #NoCutsNoCaps #ProtectOurCare


States to Target:
  • Arizona
  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia

Please be sure to thank Senators Capito (R-WV), Collins (R-ME), and Murkowski (R-AK) for their commitment to not vote for a repeal bill without a replacement.


Contact your Governors

While Senators have the most direct influence on the legislative future of the BCRA and ORRA, contacting Governors is another great way to put additional pressure on Senators. You can find contact information for governors here.


Social Media Graphics:

You are welcome to use any of the graphics below as part of your social media outreach. Thank you to SuMo Design Workshop for pulling these together!


Additional Resources and Analyses


Previous AAPD Healthcare Action Alerts


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