Remembering Carrie Ann Lucas, Fearless Health Care Activist

Carrie Ann Lucas.

9NEWS reports on the death yesterday of a well-known activist for the rights of people with disabilities in Denver and protecting health care reform in general–Carrie Ann Lucas, who helped lead the June 2017 occupation of Sen. Cory Gardner’s Denver office during the debate over repeal of the Affordable Care Act, helping cement national public opinion against the repeal campaign by putting a human face on repeal’s potential victims:

A Coloradan known for being a relentless advocate for disability rights died on Sunday.

Carrie Ann Lucas was a nationally-recognized attorney who lived with a severe neuromuscular disease. She grew up in Windsor, Colo. and had several careers including being a teacher, ordained minister and legal assistant before becoming an attorney.

From an obituary posted to Lucas’ Facebook page:

Ms. Lucas was an advocate with the disability rights groups ADAPT and Not Dead Yet, speaking, teaching, writing, testifying, and protesting on disability justice and the rights of people with disabilities to healthcare and respect. She was also a talented photographer and cook. Carrie Ann was an activist at heart. She graduated from EMERGE, ran for Windsor City Council in 2017, and was planning on additional political activity. She was chair of Colorado Democrats with Disabilities for the past several years. She was a member of the ADAPT group that protested in Cory Gardner’s office and got arrested to help save the Affordable Care Act in 2017, particularly Medicaid. She served on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. She was active with Not Dead Yet and fought hard against physician assisted suicide and the notion that life with a disability is not worth living. She demonstrated every day how amazing life with a disability can be. She was given the Intersectionality Award from The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center in 2016. She was a leader in passing HB 18-1104 which changed Colorado law to make sure that disability was no longer a reason to remove a child from a parental home. There is much, much more.

Although Lucas was arrested along with the other ADAPT activists who occupied Sen. Gardner’s office in Denver during the Affordable Care Act repeal debate, arresting officers were unequipped to accommodate her chair and medical technology–which allowed her to wait outside the downtown Denver jail along with the media while the other protesters were kept in custody. The visceral images of protesters in wheelchairs being dragged out of Gardner’s office made nationwide headlines, and contributed significantly to overwhelming public opposition to the repeal of the ACA.

It’s fair to say Gardner’s already poor approval ratings weren’t helped by his handling of the debacle either.

According to social media posts, Lucas’ death may be attributable to an “arbitrary denial” of treatment coverage by her insurer that led to fatal complications. If that’s true and it can be credibly shown that her death was preventable, it’s a tragedy the whole nation should know about.

In the meantime, if you want to honor Carrie Ann Lucas’ legacy, take up her fight.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit! says:

    if you want to honor Carrie Ann Lucas’ legacy, take up her fight

    …and take out Cory Gardner in 2020. We'll do it for you, Carrie.

  2. mamajama55 says:

    This is a devastating loss for so many communities. I would donate to Atlantis ADAPT in her name. She is also leaving behind 4 children, and it would be great to see a fund for their name.

    You didn't mention in the original post that this was basically a murder by neglect; she needed a relatively low cost procedure that her health insurance denied; a host of complications ensued, which eventually killed her.

    We are poorer  without her.

  3. JohnInDenver says:

    Thanks for this notice — Ms. Lucas will be remembered fondly and clearly by those she worked to help and those in various disability support communities.

    The "Not Dead Yet" post at explains her death specifically:

    In January of 2018 she got a cold which turned into a trach and lung infection.   Her insurance company UnitedHealthcare, refused to pay for the one specific inhaled antibiotic that she really needed. She had to take a less effective drug and had a bad reaction to that drug. This created a cascade of problems, loss of function (including her speech). United Healthcare’s attempt to save $2,000 cost over $1 million in health care costs over the past year. This includes numerous hospitalizations, always involving the Intensive Care Unit which is par for the course for ventilator users.


  4. MichaelBowman says:

    This story hit a very sensitive nerve for me today; I have two people close to me who are struggling with medication, costs of those medications and unemployment.  Both wander into the realm of 'possible suicide' more often than I care to admit.  Both wonderful people who are simply giving up.  All this with the backdrop of Cory's 60+ proud votes on Repeal and Replace;(with the full knowledge they had no 'Replace'), months and years of lying to everyone who would listen in CD4; demonizing Obama, Democrats and health care.  It should come as no surprise to him (or his Party) that informed Coloradans are sick of this bs.  

    This loss of power by Colorado Republicans seems to have hit a nerve; apparently it isn't any fun governing when there may be nothing but minority status on the horizon.  

    Colorado Republicans can’t govern unless we can win (and if woke up this morning not dead yet)

    The first step toward a Republican comeback is to call off the intra-party purity wars. 

    We fight over who is truly conservative or who is loyal to President Trump, while Democrats win elections and make laws.  Republican candidates tout their exemplary conservative voting record, but with Democrats in control, those votes are cast in a losing cause.  Without a governing majority, those conservative votes don’t make even one Coloradan more free.

    • unnamed says:

      The problem with Hillman's logic: Republicans can't seem to govern even when they DO win.  They're incapable of it.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        I wish I had a little more energy to devote to responding to Hillman's post.  They aren't only incapable of governing, they can't even capture a majority of disaffected, unaffiliated voters. 

        I have one particular friend on FB who is a perfect poster child for what's wrong with Hillman's party.  This person used to be a very pragmatic, center-right Republican.  She's gone off the rails, in large part thanks to her addictions to pro-Trump sites on Facebook and a 24hr Fox News feed in her home.  Yesterday she posted a video 'The Inconvenient Truth About the Republican Party' in which they go back to the 1854 platform and how Repubs have always been for equality, the little guy, blacks, women, etc.  

        It would be funny if I hadn't known her 20 years ago. 

        • Voyageur says:

          It depends on how you draw it the lines but the Lincoln, Grant, Teddy Roosevelt party was definite more liberal than the Democrats.  As recently As passage of the civil rights act of1964 a higher percentage of Republicans voted for it than Democrats.   Everett Dirkson remains one of my heros.  And the Bilbo-Russell Democrats are still trying to turn the thermostat down in their corner of Hell.


          • unnamed says:

            Ironic, and that was the point that a lot of Dixiecrats became Republicans in protest of the Civil Rights Act.

            • Conserv. Head Banger says:

              Two things killing the Republican party in Colorado these days: 1) adoration of, and doubling down on, Donald Trump, 2) pandering to the religious right and its patriarchal desires to control young female vaginas. 

              • Diogenesdemar says:

                Oh hell, most guns hold at least six rounds . . .

                . . . let’s not forget: 3) Science denial,  4) fealty to Dudley Brown, et al,  5) concern only for the wealthy and the mega-wealthy (or, open disdain, animosity, and hostility for anyone not), and,  6) working to eliminate citizens’ healthcare and options . . . 

                . . . I suppose I could go on, and on, and on — but there’s a limitation on the number of rounds one can have in this State.  Let’s just agree that there’s more than two problems the GOP in Colorado should fix if they want to avoid their demise??

                . . . did I mention, 7) environmental disconcern and destruction ??

              • notaskinnycook says:

                And when the Republicans took the religionists in, they started their downhill slide. As I've said many times, they did it to themselves, CHB.

            • RepealAndReplace says:

              Ironic, and that was the point that a lot of Dixiecrats became Republicans in protest of the Civil Rights Act.

              One party's trash is another party's treasure.

    • Lucy Montrose says:

      Without a governing majority, those conservative votes don’t make even one Coloradan more free.

      As long as they're not women wanting to be free to choose their own reproductive fates or kids wanting to be free from premature gun death, eh Mark?

  5. Lucy Montrose says:

    Noooooooo! Not Carrie Ann Lucas! She was a big fighter and YES, absolutely, United Healthcare and its bean counters, in order to save $2000, ended up spending over 1 MILLION… and the LIFE of an extraordinary person. 

    Imagine if car insurance companies were like that. "I'm not covering your $100 transmission flush, but I'm willing to spend 4 times that much on a new transmission to replaced the one destroyed by my refusal to spring for the flush."

    But in this case– it was a human life. And quite an important one, at that.

    Gone– for not paying for the human health equivalent of a transmission flush.

    I wonder if the algorithm writer/ junior data entry clerk/ underwriting staffer/underwriting and approval manager are sleeping well tonight. Knowing that their choices– to “just do their job”, to increase profit for United, and to get brownie points with their supervisors– may very well have killed Lucas.

    Somewhere, a fancy dinner may have been paid for with the promotion, that was granted by the boss, who was pleased with the $2000 saved, by refusing Lucas the good antibiotic, in the house that Jack built.

    United Healthcare had better open their piggy banks. For they will be needing to pay for brand new transmissions for four kids and a bereaved spouse/partner. In just-off-the-factory-floor condition.

  6. notaskinnycook says:

    That's when things started to tilt, unnamed

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.