Millions of Americans voted in the 2018 midterm election. It was a nerve-racking night for all the elected officials, the nominees, and the American people.
Since we now know the results, it seems as if everyone is asking, “Who are the winners and who are the losers?” And everyone has an opinion. Democrats are saying one thing, Republicans are saying something else, and Independents are saying… well, I really don’t know what they’re saying.
But it doesn’t seem like many are asking this: what does the midterm mean for the disabled?
This midterm election impacted the disabled community, so in what ways? Let’s look at four issues that will impact disabled men and women going forward.
Affordable Care Act (ACA) — “Obamacare”
Disabled Americans went to bed more relaxed about the state of health care in the country. The previous two years ACA has been under attack and, for a long period of time, was on the Republican agenda to either “Repeal and Replace” or a complete repeal. If this were to happen, millions of disabled Americans could be uninsured by private insurance companies, with little hope of attaining coverage for their pre-existing conditions. Medicaid expansion would have disappeared, leaving 11 million people on the brink of losing their insurance and many disabled people without the expansion services that were provided to them as well.
So, for the first time in two years, disabled Americans exhaled in relief. Democrats winning the House of Representatives was the assurance of keeping ACA operational. In addition, there was an unexpected victory for disabled Americans: there were ballot initiatives for Medicaid expansion in three traditionally Republican states (Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska) that passed.
Last night, I took a deep breath of relief that I, and millions of other disabled Americans, would continue to be covered.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Just like ACA, disabled Americans are able to feel ease about the future of ADA. On January 24, 2017, Representative Ted Poe introduced a bill called ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, which could jeopardize the foundation of ADA as a whole. Disabled Americans have been told a lie that would make ADA better and doesn’t harm the disabled community.
Now with the support of Senator Tammy Duckworth and all her Democratic colleagues, this bill will have a difficult path forward. Most disabled Americans have expressed hope for continued blockage and public knowledge and resistance of this bill.
Last night, disabled Americans have hope for the future of ADA advocacy.
(These two are not as prominent in the election, but they’re important to note.)
Accessible voting consists of a lot of different topics, but I saw three aspects to address.
Michigan voted to make it easier to register to vote and to vote itself. By doing so, it allows easier pathways to get involved in local and nationwide voting, which will help the disabled vote easier and without as many limitations (check out HuffPost for more info).
Disability Rights activists across the nation brought up the difficulty for the disabled community to vote on paper ballots. The fact that you are reading about it right now means that more people are becoming aware of the need for solutions and innovations.
I was able to vote this year in North Carolina while sitting in my car instead of trying to get into a somewhat inaccessible and crowded voting building. Curbside voting is a very encouraging and growing avenue to allow even more disabled folks to vote. Any way to make voting more accessible to the disabled should be celebrated.
The latest trend is for environmentally-friendly people to blame straws for our ever-growing plastic dependency and then move to ban single-use plastic straws. If you haven’t seen this, trust me… it’s HUGE. Who has banned plastic straws? Seattle, New York City, all of California, and now as of last night, Chicago will ban plastic straws within city limits. This is not a small trend; it’s growing and definitely not slowing down.
So, what’s the problem? Disabled people sometimes need specifically plastic straws for eating, drinking, taking medication and prevent asphyxiating in public places. So, if you ban plastic straws, disabled people might not be able to venture to many places out within communities or only do so with packing their own straws and possibly asking for the assistance of others with those they pack. Of course, there are arguments for this straw ban, but just ask yourself this: Is this view, policy, or law overtly or unknowingly discriminating against any group of people? In this case, it’s obvious: Yes, this primarily hurts and discriminates the disabled community.
After everything that happened yesterday, it comes down to three words for the disabled community: health, access, and accommodations.
The future for the disabled community turned a hopeful corner yesterday. Please do me a favor: keep this momentum and support those who advocate for health care, ADA, accessible voting, and accommodations for everyday life.