Iowa Disability League aims to become a virtual, accessible (to the best of our ability and finances), inclusive (a work in progress) communication hub facilitating cross-disability and cross-movement understanding in order to change the system. It houses the campaign #UpgradeMedicaid, which works to empower Iowans impacted by Medicaid and Long Term Support Services and to fight for change.

#UpgradeMedicaid was formed from the Iowa Chapter of United Spinal Association Advocacy Committee. In March of 2019, the Advocacy Committee had their first State Capitol visit for Meet Your Legislator Day. This was roughly three years after Medicaid in Iowa was privatized under former Governor Terry Branstad, despite numerous disability rights organizations and healthcare agencies warning against the change. Once Medicaid became privatized and Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) were brought into the state, more and more reports came out documenting care being cut. Advocate Rhonda Shouse and others were instrumental in paving the way for #UpgradeMedicaid by creating spaces like the MCO Watchdog group on Facebook to voice issues and brainstorm solutions. Rhonda also stated that the issue of privatized Medicaid was an injustice that the entire disability community in Iowa could rally around. The loss of Rhonda in 2017 hit the community hard, as did the continuing neglect of the MCOs and Iowa Medicaid Enterprise (IME).  In addition, the 2019 Meet Your Legislator Day made Jenn and Tucker realize this was an issue impacting Iowans will all types of disabilities across the state, not just spinal cord injuries. A month after Meet Your Legislator Day, Jenn and Tucker, along with advocates Tasha DeGroote and Aradia Wyndham, met at Panera Bread to brainstorm – from this meeting, #UpgradeMedicaid was born.

It soon became clear to us that disabled Iowans have an abundance of diverse issues facing them, not just those related to the privatization of Medicaid. And like the multiplicity of barriers facing our community, we also have unique sets of skills and organizing tactics. Iowa Disability League grew from this idea, and the need for a grassroots coalition of disabled individuals across the state, invested in creating a better world. Although Iowa Disability League welcomes all to participate in our actions and events, we are led by disabled people and believe strongly in continuing this way.

Civic engagement is a super power when barriers exist. Watch this video for a photo compilation of our members meeting with elected officials and candidates during election cycles and beyond!
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