‘Shoes’ protests the Bet­ter Care Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Act

Record Observer - - News - By LEANN SCHENKE lschenke@thekent­coun­tynews.com

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.

PHO­TOS BY LEANN SCHENKE

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.

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