‘Shoes’ protests the Better Care Reconciliation Act
CHESTERTOWN — About 1,000 pairs of shoes covered Fountain Park in Chestertown July 13 for “A Mile in Our Shoes,” an artistic representation of how many people from Kent County would lose their health insurance under the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
“This demonstration is about the life or death impact this act will have on our community,” said Raven Bishop, a member of Indivisible Kent and Queen Anne’s County.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement Tuesday that efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, with the GOP’s Better Care Reconciliation Act have stalled.
“I regret that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failures of Obamacare will not be successful,” McConnell said in a statement. “In the coming days, the Senate will take up and vote on a repeal of Obamacare combined with a stable, two-year transition period as we work toward patient-centered health care.”
Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible is a local chapter of the national Indivisible grassroots movement.
Bishop said this protest was unique to the Kent and Queen Anne’s chapter, but was inspired by artistic demonstrations and protests from the organization happening around America.
Erin Anderson, also of the local Indivisible group, said the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Better Care Reconciliation Act said it would lead to about 15 million people losing their health care coverage.
“We want to get people’s attention and have them hear and see the numbers of people who will be affected,” Anderson said. “People see big numbers thrown out all the time concerning who will lose health care. We wanted to show people what these big numbers really mean to a small community like Chestertown.”
Following the demonstration, Bishop said the shoes were being donated to local charities.
Though disrupted by some rain and thunderstorms, the demonstration lasted for about an hour and included speakers from Catonsville Indivisible and representatives for U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both D-Md. It ended with a candlelight vigil and poetry reading by Bishop.
Melissa Kelly, Eastern Shore outreach director for Van Hollen, asked people to keep calling the senator’s office to voice their concerns.
“It all gets heard,” she said. “Do not feel like your concerns are not being heard.”
Linda Cades, a member of Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible, spoke of her concerns. She said she has a 38-year-old son who became disabled when he was 5 months old because of a seizure disorder and is unable to care for himself.
She said he attends a day program at Kent Center, but with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, places like Kent Center might lose funding. Additionally, he is on a waiting list for a group home, but it is 4,000 families long.
“At the moment, my husband and I don’t dare die because who will take care of our son?” Cades said.
The issue of cuts to Medicare and Medicaid were frequently expressed during the demonstration.
Kathy Appel, president of the Kuhmerker Consulting Group and a former director of Medicaid in New York, said 50 percent of children rely on Medicaid in their first year of life. She said 60 percent of people in nursing homes require support from it.
“You can do everything right your whole life and then live too long and need to go on Medicaid,” Appel said.
Appel said the program should be improved instead of cut back.
“The program is extraordinarily efficient,” Appel said. “This program can always be improved, but it’s there for people when they need it.”
Many of the speakers called for action from participants at the demonstration.
Matt Celentano, deputy director of Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, urged people to keep calling their local representatives.
“It is incredibly nice to be in a blue state, but we still have a lot to do,” Celentano said. “Do not call this a health care bill, it is just a tax cut for the wealthy.”
The event also was attended by a pair of 2018 Democratic candidates: Allison Galbraith, challenging Congressman Andy Harris, RMd.-1st, and Michael Walker, who is running for office in the Maryland House of Delegates 36th District.
Nearly 1,000 pairs of shoes are displayed in Fountain Park July 13 as part of an artistic demonstration by Indivisible Kent and Queen Anne’s County to protest the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The shoes represent the number of people in Kent County who will lose their healthcare because of the act.