Tuesday, February 26, 2019

RIP Carrie Ann Lucas, Disability Rights Activist

I'm sad that I've never written about Carrie Ann Lucas before now. And the reason she's in the news now is not just because she died at the early age of 47, but because she denied as a direct result of a denial of coverage from her insurance company.

“Carrie Ann Lucas, a disability rights attorney who pioneered representation for parents with disabilities, died after an arbitrary denial from an insurance company caused a plethora of health problems, exacerbating her disabilities and eventually leading to her premature death,” read a February 24 post on her Facebook page.

Lucas was a dedicated and important disability activist and a nationally recognized attorney. She got the Family Preservation for Parents with Disability Act passed in Colorado, which helps to prevent discrimination against disabled parents who apply for welfare for their children.

What started a chain of events that led to Lucas' death was nothing more than a bad cold. But her insurance company refused to cover a specific medication that she needed, which I'm assuming is related to the fact that she had multiple illnesses including a rare for of muscular dystrophy and type 1 diabetes. The cost of the meds was $2,000, which Lucas could not afford herself. She had to settle for a less effective medication, suffered a bad reaction, her health deteriorated (resulting in hospitals stays costing way more than $2,000), and as a result she was robbed of who knows how many years of life. And the rest of us are worse off without her in the world.

Lucas fought for better healthcare and easier access for all of us. Even if her work had only benefitted disabled people, that would have been great and she would have been an amazing human being. But we all need to be grateful, as her work helped stop the repeal of the ACA. Those protests outside of Republican offices in the capital that resulted in cops dragging disabled persons out of their wheelchairs and shaming the nation? That was her doing.

Eventually, the protesters were arrested, which Lucas live-streamed on Facebook. She was the last protester to be arrested and was cited with trespassing and interference with a police officer because she refused to tell the arresting officers how to use her power wheelchair.

Lucas' list of accomplishments in the Rewire article is impressive for anyone. Lucas did all that through disability and systemic ableism. The fact that she died because a health insurance company didn't want to pay $2,000 is a tragedy, an outrage, and a rank injustice. The insurance company killed her.

Universal healthcare now. Rights and protections for disabled people now. Nobody else should ever die because of ableism and/or a lack of healthcare. Health insurance company CEOs are no better than murderers.

Rest in peace, Carrie Ann Lucas.

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