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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Trump Inspires Disability Activism

 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the political aspects of science and public health. Many posts have discussed Trump's support for the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.  He also has a bad record on science and disability issues more generally.

He is now inspiring disability activism.

Abigail Abrams at Time:
During his campaign, Trump promised not to touch entitlement programs. Since taking office, however, he and the GOP-controlled Congress have pursued an agenda that could have outsized consequences for disabled Americans. Each of the GOP’s proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act included cuts to Medicaid, the main health insurer for adults and children with disabilities. Medicaid covers services that other insurers typically do not, such as personal care assistants and lifts that allow people with disabilities to live in their own homes and communities. While the ACA repeal attempts failed, the Trump administration has now allowed states to enact work requirements for those who receive Medicaid—a policy change that experts say will likely result in many disabled people losing coverage.

The backlash from the disabled community was fierce. Activists staged a “die-in” at Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s office last June, while members of ADAPT organized an average of three protests per day across 30 states over the summer, according to national organizer Gregg Beratan. The demonstrations helped grow the group’s ranks: at least 10 new chapters have emerged since Trump took office, according to ADAPT’s Cameron. Larger chapters, like the one in Denver where ADAPT started, have seen increases in membership and donations. Before the 2016 election, the Denver chapter typically raised about $10,000 each year. In 2017 they doubled that sum. The American Association of People with Disabilities launched a National Disability Voter Registration Week in 2016; last year the number of voter registration events rose nearly 400%. An estimated 45,000 people with disabilities attended the Women’s March on Washington last year, making that day likely the largest gathering of disabled people in American history. For those who could not go in person, an online Disability March drew more than 3,000 participants.