A Mile In Our Shoes: An Artistic Demonstration Against the Senate Healthcare Bill By Marita Wilson

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As seen from above, Fountain Park in Chestertown with a display of over 1,000 shoes in an artistic and symbolic protest of the proposed TrumpCare which would result in over 900 people in Kent County losing healthcare coverage.

On Thursday, July 13, over 1,00 pairs of shoes stood empty in Chestertown’s Fountain Park, representing the number of individuals in Kent County who would lose their health insurance under the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Kent and Queen Anne’s County Indivisible, a local chapter of the nation-wide Indivisible grassroots movement, organized the event as a local expression of the national concern surrounding changes to health care legislation.

 According to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BRCA), 15 million people, or more than 4.5% of the total US population, would lose their healthcare coverage by next year. That translates to 930 people in Kent County losing their healthcare coverage. By 2026, the CBO estimates that 22 million Americans would lose healthcare coverage, which would translate to over 1300 individuals in Kent County. This number is nearly equal to the total enrollment of Chestertown’s Washington College, or over half of all students enrolled in Kent County Public Schools.

 The group titled the event “A Mile In Our Shoes” as a nod to the saying, “To really know a man, walk a mile in his shoes”.

 “We are hoping that when people who attend the event see what 930 people in their community really ‘looks like’ (represented by shoes), they will understand that the decisions made in Washington, DC, really have an impact here on a local level,” says Raven Bishop, a local artist and KQA Indivisible member who advised on the artistic aspects of the project.

 “A Mile In Our Shoes” was spearheaded by KQA Indivisible leaders Raven Bishop, Erin Anderson, Kitty Maynard, and Linda Cades. The group began organizing the event in March, just after the American Health Care Act was introduced. The event quickly gained momentum, with several community members contributing to planning and execution. Shoes were collected by the Kent County Democratic Club, other Indivisible groups from around the state, and several local individuals, businesses, and community organizations.

 The event kicked off at 7:00 pm with shoes surrounding the fountain in the park, although attendees were relocated to the breezeway on High Street when rain, thunder, and lightning rolled in.  Several speakers, including representatives from Senators Cardin and Van Hollen’s offices, Jeananne Sciabarra of Consumer Health First, Kathy Appel of the Kuhmerker Consulting Group, and Matt Celentano of the Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative, provided information on the current and potential future state of healthcare in the U.S. Areas of critical concern emphasized by the speakers were healthcare coverage for children, the elderly, and the disabled, the impacts of pre-existing conditions, lack of insurance coverage for preventative care, and the possible return of lifetime limits on insurance coverage.  Mr. Cenlentano shared that one of his children spent more than two weeks in neo-natal intensive care after she was born prematurely.  Without the protections of the Affordable Care Act he said, “She would have [reached] her lifetime limit before she left the hospital.”

 Ms. Appel, the former director of Medicaid in New York state, drew attention to the necessity of the Medicaid program: 50% of kids in the United States rely on Medicaid during their first year of life and 60% of people in nursing homes require the support of Medicaid coverage.  Although both the AHCA and BCRA recommend turning over more responsibility for Medicaid to the states, the audience was reminded that Governor Larry Hogan has not publicly shared a position on the efforts to repeal and replace the ACA despite the fact that it is expected to cost Maryland $2 billion.

 Cades shared a personal story about her son, who became disabled when he was 5 months old due to a seizure disorder. Cades’s son is 38 years old and is unable to live on his own, but the waitlist for a group home in the area is 4,000 families long.  Group homes get 50% of their funding from Medicaid. She expressed doubt that the state could come in and cover those costs if the AHCA passes and funding to Medicaid is cut.“We don’t dare die,” she said of her and her husband, for fear her son would have nowhere to go without them. The oldest caregiver in Maryland is 101 years old.“That’s my story,” she said in conclusion. “If I walked around this group with this microphone, everyone would have a story, too.”

 Allison Galbraith, a Maryland native who is challenging Andy Harris for his congressional seat in 2018, is one of those people with a story.  Due to gender rate spikes and her pregnancy-related pre-existing conditions, Galbraith was unable to afford private insurance after giving birth to her son. But because of the ACA, she can now afford insurance and is able to run her own small business.

 Kimberly Kratovil, the Eastern Shore Field Representative from Sen. Ben Cardin’s office, told the audience “Keep Calling. Keep letting your voice be heard.” Both she and Melissa Kelly, a representative from Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s office, passed on their appreciation for KQA Indivisible’s efforts to fight against the inadequate House and Senate versions of an ACA replacement bill.

 “A Mile in Our Shoes” came to a close with a candlelight vigil.  Shoulder to shoulder, the crowd stood together in a last demonstration of their commitment to speak out and protect the most vulnerable amongst them.

KQA Indivisible hopes to hold additional informative demonstrations, especially on issues of paramount importance in this area: education and environmental policy surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Deirdre LaMotte says:

    WonderfuL visual of what is happening right now obscured behind all the Trump drama and tweets. This administration and Congress are actively sabotaging the ACA by undermining the state marketplaces. One big reason is the ACA was passed into law under President Obama, which drives the current President crazy. Most of the 2018 premium increases in
    the ACA are a result of this destabilization by the Republicans. It is NOT their much-loved market-forces weakening it. The ACA needs improvement just as Social Security and Medicare did when enacted. It should not be repealed .

  2. mark dellacqua says:

    Where are the shoes for the Americans who lost their health care plan or their provider and/or their premiums and deductibles increased as the result of Obamacare. Despite Obama telling the nation that” you can keep your current plan and provider and premiums will come down,” many Americans didn’t experience that which should not be surprising because how else are you going to pay for 30 million Americans who were uninsured? Simple, you lie to people about keeping your doctor and plan and
    decreased premiums hoping there are enough people naïve enough to actually believe it so you can pass it as law. The major premise of Obamacare was based on a lie [ keep your plan and provider and expect decreased premiums ] which is reason enough to repeal it. Why should people who were happy with their plan and their provider and costs be penalized because they were lied to in order to subsidize government managed health care that is a disaster even in the early stages of Obamacare? Obamacare is a scam that was designed from the beginning to create a single-payer system which simply means that your average working American will pay considerably more for health insurance than they are currently paying now. That’s a lot of shoes.

    Repeal Obamacare and keep the government out of the healthcare industry. What sector of society has the government taken over from a private concern and things actually got better?

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