- The demonstration is held in the Cannon House Office Building
- Disability activists are worried about proposed cuts by House Republicans
- Actor Noah Wyle is among those arrested
Seventy-six people, including actor Noah Wyle, were arrested Monday at a demonstration protesting cuts in Medicaid proposed by the House Republican leadership, authorities said.
Hundreds of demonstrators filled the ornate rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building for the protests. The 76 were arrested on suspicion of unlawful conduct and demonstrating in a Capitol building, police said.
Wyle, formerly of "ER" and current star of "Falling Skies," was among those handcuffed and taken away. Police said he and most of the others would face a misdemeanor fine and be released after processing.
The rally against the proposed cuts in Medicaid was organized by ADAPT, the Americans with Disabilities for Attendant Programs Today. A statement handed out during the event called for "accountability," against the House's proposed one-third cut to federal Medicaid spending.
"Today, I took part in an effort by ADAPT to bring attention to the Medicaid cuts that have been made by many states and are threatened to be made on a federal level," Wyle said in a statement.
"To institutionalize a disabled American costs four times as much than to give assistance for independent living. This issue is about civil rights, not about medicine. People who have the ability to live in integrated, affordable and accessible housing should have the right to do so."
The group wants House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to require states to provide long-term alternatives to nursing homes and institutions that are often mandated by Medicaid rules.
Instead of home and community support when she's older and unable to live on her own, protester Madeleine McMahan of Pennsylvania told CNN, "My generation? The Baby Boomers? we're looking at nursing homes if we don't do something about it."
She spoke in handcuffs, waiting for police to escort her to an elevator for arrest processing.
Also in handcuffs and a wheelchair, Denise McMullin-Powell of Delaware said lawmakers proposing the Medicaid cuts are "completely ignoring that we even exist in the stupid budget that they have."
She said "it's worth getting arrested, it's worth dying for, but they're gonna kill us first because of the cuts. If we can't stay in our home, if we can't get the things we need through Medicaid, we will die in the streets without that type of thing."
Wyle said, "This effort is to end the longstanding bias of the Medicaid system toward institutions and away from community care. The real shame is to see so many productive, intelligent people expending their energy on the fight for basic services to ensure their survival."