Mitch McConnell survived childhood polio thanks to a publicly funded program created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But now he has turned his back on others who need help, including the very organization that helped him.

You would think Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would have more compassion for children who rely on publicly funded programs for their health care.

Over the years, he has repeatedly referenced his childhood battle against polio in interviews and in his memoir.

As McConnell told PBS, “My first memory in life was the last visit to Warm Springs, where they told my mother I was going to be OK, I wouldn’t have to wear a brace, and I would have a normal childhood.”

Warm Springs was a polio rehabilitation facility funded by the March of Dimes, which was set up by President Franklin Roosevelt. The March of Dimes asked ordinary citizens to send in their spare change to the White House to help in their mission of assisting with health care concerns for children.

“My mother took me over there,” McConnell explained. “They trained her how to do a physical therapy regimen and said, do it four times a day.”

Now, 73 years later, McConnell has turned his back on those who helped him. He recently refused to meet with the March of Dimes and other patient advocacy organizations, who are deeply concerned about the debilitating effect the proposed health care legislation will have on millions of vulnerable Americans.

And he’s leading the charge in the Senate to gut Medicaid — the government program on which 30 percent of adults with disabilities and 60 percent of children with disabilities rely for their care.

Some of those adults went to McConnell’s office to protest his plan, but he would not meet with them either. Instead, they were dragged from their wheelchairs and arrested.

Polio has effectively been eradicated in America — thanks to a government-funded initiative — but children like young Mitch McConnell rely on our public health funding to cure or manage their diseases, or help families cope with life-long illnesses. If Republicans succeed in cutting Medicaid, many more vulnerable children will be forced to go without care.

McConnell was given a lifeline that allowed him to recover, thrive, and rise to the position of majority leader of the U.S. Senate. But he’s cutting off that lifeline for everybody else behind him.


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