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Rewire News, February 25, 2019

On Sunday, the disability community lost one of its most dedicated advocates. Carrie Ann Lucas, 47, was a beloved mother and nationally recognized attorney who lived in Windsor, Colorado. She was also a professional colleague, mentor, and a dear friend.

“Carrie Ann Lucas, a disability rights attorney who pioneered representation for parents with disabilities, died after an arbitrary denial from an insurance company caused a plethora of health problems, exacerbating her disabilities and eventually leading to her premature death,” read a February 24 post on her Facebook page.

Lucas, who had a rare form of muscular dystrophy, used a power wheelchair and a ventilator. She also had low vision, was hard of hearing, and had type 1 diabetes. As she documented on her personal blog in January 2018, Lucas became ill with a bad cold. According to her Facebook page, her health insurer, UnitedHealthcare, refused to pay for a specific medication she needed, owing to its cost of $2,000. Consequently, she had to take a different and less-effective medication, which caused deleterious reactions. Lucas’ health rapidly declined, resulting in numerous hospital stays over the last year and the loss of her ability to speak. The obituary on her Facebook noted, “United Healthcare’s attempt to save $2,000 cost over $1 million in health care costs over the past year.” More importantly, Lucas’ friends and family argue, it cost her her life.

Access to health care was always a top priority for Lucas. Indeed, as a member of ADAPT, a grassroots group of disability rights activists, Lucas gained national attention in June 2017 after staging a multiday protest inside the office of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). The group was fighting Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Doing so would have resulted in decreased Medicaid funding and would have jeopardized services and supports that allow people with disabilities to live in their communities. “This issue is just too critically important for my own independence and that of my children so I felt like it was time to do more,” Lucas told Rewire.News at the time.