Disabled protesters circle Sen. Cory Gardner’s office as senators prepare for a third healthcare vote

Today activists carried a coffin around Sen. Gardner’s office, hoping to convey their fears of any Affordable Care Act repeal.

A cutout of Cory Gardner is reflected in a casket as it circles the building containing his office. An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Jose Torres-Vega screams, "Kill the bill! Don't kill us!" An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) adapt; healthcare; denver; colorado; denverite; skyline park; medicaid; kevinjbeaty;
Jose Torres-Vega screams, “Kill the bill! Don’t kill us!” during a protest against yet another healthcare bill. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

After weeks of hedging about his position on various Republican health care plans, Sen. Cory Gardner voted yes three times — yes on a key procedural vote to start debate, yes on the Better Care Reconciliation Act and yes on a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Those bills failed as other Republicans joined Democrats to vote no.

As Senate Republicans now turn to a so-called “Skinny Repeal” that would roll back the individual mandate while keeping other aspects of Obamacare, the protesters who have dogged Gardner for weeks returned to his offices, including one in downtown Denver.

(Update: Gardner voted yes on the Skinny Repeal. It lost by just one vote, as Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona voted no.)

Activists like the disabled members of ADAPT — who occupied Sen. Cory Gardner’s office for two days in late June — fear changes to the health care law will lead to cuts in Medicaid programs that allow them to live independent lives.

Today they carried a coffin and a cutout of Senator Gardner around the building containing his office by Skyline Park, hoping to convey their fears of the Skinny or any other Affordable Care Act repeal.

A cutout of Cory Gardner is reflected in a casket as it circles the building containing his office. An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) adapt; healthcare; denver; colorado; denverite; skyline park; medicaid; kevinjbeaty;
A cutout of Sen. Cory Gardner is reflected in a casket as it circles the building containing his Denver office. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

As they circled the building multiple times, activists yelled, “Kill the bill! Don’t kill us!”

The protest was not particularly large in size, but it was loud and another action in a string of public condemnations of the Senate’s repeal effort. Just last weekend, activists interrupted Sen. Gardner’s speech at the Western Conservative Summit. It was the first time protesters were in the same room as the senator since they began publicly requesting an audience with him through public protests.

“We’re at the 11th hour,” said protester Sarah Nelson. “They haven’t considered any of the people that this involves. Our healthcare could be gone, that means our lives could be gone…We’ll be relentless until they work with us.”

Sarah Nelson yells, "Kill the bill! Don't kill us!" An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) adapt; healthcare; denver; colorado; denverite; skyline park; medicaid; kevinjbeaty;
Sarah Nelson yells, “Kill the bill! Don’t kill us!” An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could affect Medicaid coverage. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Julie Reiskin, member of ADAPT and executive director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, said she’s afraid a Medicaid rollback could be tacked onto the Skinny Repeal if it passes. But, she said, it’s the entire process that has brought her out to protest multiple times in recent weeks.

“This is a really dangerous way to make public policy,” she said. “Not only do we not know what’s in the bills, but our representatives don’t know.”

Julie Reiskin, of ADAPT and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, during an ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) adapt; healthcare; denver; colorado; denverite; skyline park; medicaid; kevinjbeaty;
Julie Reiskin, of ADAPT and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, and a Cory Gardner cut-out. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The sheer speed with which Senate Republicans have introduced new legislation has been a blur, Reiskin said. The fact that a reporter has to ask how she’s able to keep track of things in the first place, she said, is a problem.

“A normal democratic process involves everyone reading the bill and then having discussions,” she said. “This is not how to make public policy.”

Protesters carry a casket through Skyline Park. An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) adapt; healthcare; denver; colorado; denverite; skyline park; medicaid; kevinjbeaty;
Protesters carry a casket through Skyline Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Jordan Sibayan leads the crowd around the building that contains Sen. Cory Gardner's office. An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) adapt; healthcare; denver; colorado; denverite; skyline park; medicaid; kevinjbeaty;
Jordan Sibayan leads the crowd around the building that contains Sen. Cory Gardner’s office. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A woman working in a nearby parking garage photographs protesters as they pass. An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) adapt; healthcare; denver; colorado; denverite; skyline park; medicaid; kevinjbeaty;
A woman working in a nearby parking garage photographs protesters as they pass. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Jordan Sibayan leads the crowd around the building that contains Sen. Cory Gardner's office. An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) adapt; healthcare; denver; colorado; denverite; skyline park; medicaid; kevinjbeaty;
Jordan Sibayan leads the crowd around the building. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
ADAPT protester Dawn Howard voices her concerns to a cut-out Cory Gardner. An ADAPT protest against yet another healthcare bill in Washington that could strip Medicaid coverage. Skyline Park, July 27, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) adapt; healthcare; denver; colorado; denverite; skyline park; medicaid; kevinjbeaty;
ADAPT protester Dawn Howard vents her frustrations to a Cory Gardner cut-out. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Kevin Beaty

Author: Kevin Beaty

Kevin Beaty is a media producer with experience in a variety of settings spanning Hollywood film sets to international backpack journalism expeditions. He is on a never-ending quest to meld artful imagery, functional design and intimate storytelling. His biggest struggle in any given moment is whether to shoot stills or video. Find him on Twitter and Instagram at @kevinjbeaty.