Disabled protesters will rally against Republican health care plan in Denver Thursday

Author: Joey Bunch - July 6, 2017 - Updated: July 6, 2017

disabled protestors
Kayln Hefferman protests proposed cuts to Medicaid in the Republican health care plan at Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s Office lsdy week. (Via Facebook)

Disabled people opposed to the Republican health care plan show no signs of ending their siege on Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. A group was arrested after after a three-day “die in” at Gardner’s Denver office last week.

Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. more than a dozen disability organizations are planning rally outside Gardner’s office at 1125 17th St. in downtown Denver against the proposed Republican health care plan, “to demand that he vote NO on any bill that would risk the part of Medicaid that funds daily care for the disabled such as help with bathing, dressing, respite, assisted living, transportation and more,” according to a press advisory Wednesday night.

They’re concerned especially for the fate of Home and Community Based Services for people who otherwise qualify for care in institutional settings.

“HCBS services are less expensive, better for the clients and also a source of jobs, helping the economy,” State Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, said in a statement.

Young is a member of the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, which writes the state budget and handles Medicaid dollars. He is expected to speak at Thursday’s rally.

“Ever since Ronald Reagan signed the original law implementing HCBS, Colorado has been a leader in providing these services. However, they are optional services,” Young said. “If we have to find $340 million in the Medicaid budget, I do not see how we can take that kind of hit without looking at these services, even though both Democrats and Republicans want to serve our disabled in the least restrictive setting.”

Rally organizers said Colorado is home to more than 130,000 disabled and elderly Medicaid recipients about half of whom are in programs at risk if the current health care plan becomes law as it’s currently drafted.

Curt Wolff said in the advisory from rally organizers than he became quadriplegic because of a mosquito bite.

“Even though I had a successful corporate career and excellent health insurance, I quickly learned that only Medicaid provides the personal care I need every day,’ he said in the statement. “I was able to get on the buy-in program and because I get the help I need, I work and pay a premium to keep my Medicaid. I believe in limited government, but there are some things government should do. Medicaid is essential to our life and liberty.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.