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Ari Melber Breaks Down in Tears While Talking Medicaid Cuts With Family Impacted by Disability

During tonight’s broadcast of MSNBC’s The Last Word, guest host Ari Melber spoke to Mike Phillips and his mother, Karen Clay. Phillips lives with spinal muscular atrophy and Clay is his full-time caregiver. Melber spoke with the two because Phillips stands to lose Medicaid benefits if the proposed Senate health care bill is passed.

After Clay explained that her son was diagnosed more than 30 years ago and that the amount of care he needs has increased over that time, she added that Medicaid isn’t just a lifeline, it “is a life.”

“If you take away Medicaid from individuals like my son — and my son in particular — there would be no place for him,” she said.

Phillips, via a computer, then delivered the following statement:

“Hi and good evening. First, I just want to say it’s an honor to be here. I watch your legal analysis every day. You’re spectacular. So ever since November the 9th, 2016, I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ve been scared. I’ve never been scared by the results of an election. It’s an odd feeling. I’ve always felt like the federal government exists to protect citizens, even when state governments won’t do so. Maybe especially when state governments won’t do so.

So, yes, I’m scared. Scared of what could happen to me if Medicaid cut comes to pass in Florida and scared because Florida is bent on doing so because they know the federal government won’t stop them. Though I’m quite disabled, Medicaid services allow me to live a full, productive life, interacting with the community, being cared for at home. I live at home. I have a personal care assistant. She takes me anywhere I want to go — the movies, Starbucks, dinner with friends, the tattoo shop, when the mood takes me, which is often enough.

I don’t have a girlfriend right now, but I had one for quite a while, and I’d like to give things another go. I’m a published writer. I helped develop assistive technology. I’m not exactly Ryan Gosling, but I lead a good life. Losing Medicaid, being forced into an institution, I’d lose everything. I’d lose the rights guaranteed to me under the Constitution — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. People with disabilities know happiness isn’t guaranteed, but we want a shot at it just like anybody else.”

“Mike, thank you for sharing that,” Melber responded, fighting through tears. “It’s very eloquent.”

Still emotional and his voice cracking, Melber then asked Karen if there was anything else she wanted people to know about the bill, to which she answered that it was “not just mean” but it was also “cruel.”

Watch the clip above, via MSNBC.

[image via screengrab]

Follow Justin Baragona on Twitter: @justinbaragona

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