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ADAPT demands enforcement of the "integration mandate"

PHOTO: Paul Denham announces compliance to ADAPT's demands in Colorado
Paul Denham announces compliance to ADAPT's demands in Colorado - photo by Mike McCarty

(DENVER Nov. 21, 2002) Forty-one Colorado ADAPT activists stormed into the Byron G. Rogers Federal Office Building at 1961 Stout St. and demanded that officials of the Regional office of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) send a list of their demands to Washington DC. ADAPT organizations in every region made similar demands to highlight the lack of enforcement of the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

“Colorado ADAPT joined a national effort to send a message that HHS is not doing it job,” said Dawn Russell of Boulder. “More than three years ago the Supreme Court upheld our right to live in the community, but today all across the country people with disabilities are still herded into institutions and nursing homes.” 

In June of 1999 the US Supreme Court upheld the “integration mandate” of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act in the landmark Olmstead decision. The ruling reinforced Americans civil right to equal access in the community and it specifically prohibited segregation of people with disabilities to institutions and nursing homes where those services can be provided in a home or community setting. In the three and a half years since the Olmstead ruling most states have failed to produce a comprehensive effectively working plan to demonstrate that state programs are not illegally segregating people into institutions and nursing homes. 

In Memphis Tennessee advocates visiting their state office building had the doors locked and the elevator to the fourteen story building shut down. Tennessee HHS officials hid in their offices and demanded that Tennessee State Police remove ADAPT rather than having to face the group.

PHOTO: State Police remove ADAPT from the DJ Hill State Office Building.
State Police remove ADAPTfrom the DJ Hill State Office Building.- photo by Robert Morris

The HHS Office of Civil Rights is charged with ensuring that Medicaid Services are provided in keeping with US Constitutional law, but activists from every region demanded today that Tommy Thompson, the Secretary of HHS :

  1. Direct Tom Scully, director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to institute a national policy of the “money follows the individual” so that any person in a nursing home or other institution who wants support services can receive them in the community.
  2. Direct Tom Scully to develop a national marketing campaign in cooperation with ADAPT comparable to the current nursing home media campaign in order to promote REAL CHOICE in long-term care.
  3. Direct Richard Campanelli, the National Director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, to have all HHS /OCR Regional managers aggressively investigate all complaints regarding the “most integrated setting” requirement of the ADA, vigorously enforce this requirement, assure that regional offices are not creating additional barriers for those individuals seeking to enforce their rights because of State Medicaid budget cuts.
  4. Direct Richard Campanelli to investigate and follow through on the OCR ADA Title II Complaints disability groups and individuals filed – some over 2 years ago – against their states.
  5. Follow up with your commitment to meet with ADAPT every 6 months and set up a meeting by February 14, 2003.

Reports from across the nation:

Montana
Because the regional office is in Denver, Montana ADAPT sent information to Colorado ADAPT for the action in Denver. Montana ADAPT also faxed demands with a personal note. 

Kansas
About 100 members of Kansas ADAPT demonstrated outside the Bolling Federal Office Building in Kansas City Missouri on Thursday November 21, 2002 demanding an immediate investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) into the failure of the State of Kansas to comply with the provisions of the Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C. Kansas ADAPT activists were upset because previous complaints filed with OCR soon after the Olmstead decision two years ago have not been investigated.

ADAPT argued that Kansas does not comply with the law because the state has:

  • No ADA transition plan or self-evaluation covering long-term care services, supports and programs as required by the ADA,
  • A State long-term care budget that does not distribute resources with an "even hand" as required under Olmstead,
  • Waiting lists for HCBS do not move at a "reasonable pace" as required under Olmstead,
  • No modifications of programs and services to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities as required by the ADA!

Kansas ADAPT marched to the 6th floor of the Docking State Office Building the next day; Friday November 22, 2002, to protest Kansas' failure to comply with the provisions of the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision. Nearly 100 activists converged on the office of Janet Schalansky, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) to demand that SRS develop both an Olmstead and an ADA Plan to bring the state into compliance with federal civil rights laws.

The public passing by the state building were intrigued by the over 200 stick figures the group had drawn on the sidewalk. Each stick figure represented over 11 people on waiting lists for the State's Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers.

Secretary Schalansky agreed to meet with ADAPT on December 3, 2002 to discuss the issues which had been raised. She also signed a resolution stating her commitment to "Strongly advocate for the needs of Kansans with disabilities and clearly educate the Governor and Legislature of the impacts of any proposed budget cuts to the HCBS Programs that would adversely affect people with disabilities of all ages."

Georgia
About 20 of us met with Roosevelt Freeman, our Regional Manager and asked him to share the ADAPT demands with the appropriate people. We pressed Mr. Freeman for a deadline on the mediation reminding him that June 22nd is the 4th anniversary of the Olmstead decision and told him we'd be monitoring him and the regional office closely.

New York
In New York over 51 people got up to the 35th FL of their Federal Building in NYC and met with their Regional Manager. This office had been one of the most obstructionist in the nation, but after a face off with NY ADAPTers the Regional person wound up agreeing to:

  • get rid of extra paper work requirements (they had previously added) for filing complaints,
  • investigate housing issues in complaints
  • write to Governor Pataki regarding Budget cuts
  • hold quarterly meetings with ADAPT!

Washington DC
In DC 6 ADAPT people got into the HHS headquarters for the Disability Wing (a meeting you may have seen on the internet grapevine). They used the opportunity to have our message echo through the halls in DC too! Dr Margaret Giannini head of the Office on Disability was chairing a Disability Wing and swore to get our message to Thompson, Campanelli & Scully.

Texas
20 Desert and Austin Texas ADAPTers meet with our Regional OCR guy Ralph Rouse for over an hour to discuss the demands and their regional impact. (Louisiana -- The worst state in the nation is in our Region) and in Okalahoma they are cutting prescriptions in community based waivers to only 5 (unlimited in the institutions), and New Mexico is cutting the hours in their main attendant services program to 100 per month (they just had a big action there). Rouse agreed to fax the demands, write his own report on the Olmstead implications of the issues raised, work with ADAPT on PR regarding community based services, and in addition to investigations etc. he is working on promoting a project regarding State Protection and Advocacy’s deputizing people to go into nursing homes and other institutions to find folks who want out (an ADAPT idea).

Tennessee
Memphis ADAPT went in the state building in pairs of two so as to not tip-off the security staff, but only a very few folks got through. No one except those already inside were allowed to go upstairs as the elevators were shut down and all of the doors locked. Our purpose was to meet with Linda Williams the Executive Director of the Department of Health & Human Services in Memphis. Since the security staff had locked-off the building from us we proceeded to block the doors so that no one could get out. Several ADAPT members waited in the lobby area to meet with Ms. Williams while others surrounded the building. A television news team interviewed several members of the group while attempts were made to reason with a man who appeared to be head of security for the building.

- Tim Wheat tim@freeourpeople.org

 

 


ADAPT in Seattle, July 2004 and the skyline of the city.

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