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Jewish Disability Activists Push Back Against Republican Health Law Changes

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Close to 200 Jewish disability activists lobbied against proposed Republican changes to Medicaid and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The activists lobbied in Washington on Thursday under the aegis of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism and the Jewish Federations of North America.

In a summary statement, the groups were careful not to single out the two major initiatives they opposed as Republican-backed. However, the likelihood of the proposed bills passing has increased with both chambers of Congress under GOP control and with President Donald Trump in the White House.

The activists targeted changes proposed to Medicaid, the health insurance plan for low-income Americans, by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker, and backed by Tom Price, the health secretary, that would convert much of Medicaid funding into block grants to the states.

Disability advocates say the change would decrease the influence of the federal government in how the money is spent, and could adversely affect funding for items such as nursing, transportation and occupational therapies, among other needs currently paid for by the program.

A U.S. House of Representatives bill backed by Republicans and initiated by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, would, by amending the Americans with Disabilities Act, add hurdles to disabled people seeking redress for businesses that fail to provide adequate access.

The legislation could make “it more difficult for people to enforce their legal rights when they encounter an architectural barrier when attempting to patronize a business,” said the statement issued by the JFNA.

Among the lawmakers the activists met were Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., David Joyce, R-Ohio, Jim Langevin, D-R.I., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Wash., and Pete Sessions, R-Texas.

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