Nancy Houghton

“Don’t Take ‘No’ For An Answer"

“Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” That’s Nancy Houghton’s advice to fellow health care advocates seeking to have their voices heard.

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Nancy is a grandmother in her 60s from north of Boston. She uses a wheelchair and has a number of health conditions, including a serious pulmonary condition that requires supplemental oxygen.

None of this has slowed her down. Nancy has become a leading activist with both the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL) and MassADAPT, the state affiliate of ADAPT, a national grassroots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action. She travels frequently to Boston and as far as Washington to fight for better health care. She was even arrested a number of times in 2017 while protesting  planned cuts to Medicaid and the ACA – including once outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office in the U.S. Capitol.

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When she began the actions in D.C., Nancy was a little unsure of herself, but gained confidence with each experience. “After my numerous actions in Washington with ADAPT, I now feel I have whole family spread across the country, thousands of brothers and sisters all in this together.”

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Nancy’s first foray into activism was in 2012, when she felt she had to do something personally to fight back when the Boston Metropolitan Transit Authority doubled fares for its “The Ride” paratransit service, an onerous increase that was ultimately reduced. Recently, she has been prominent in bringing attention to challenges high-needs users will face in the new Massachusetts Medicaid ACOs.

Reflecting on her journey into engagement, Nancy says, “I hav a voice. And there is strength in numbers. If we gather our voices together, we’re going to be heard.”

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Asked about the future of her advocacy, she doesn’t hesitate for even a breath: “To keep fighting the good fight, deal with injustice when it happens, and not give in!”