ADAPT gathers in Seattle
JULY 17,2004) Activists from across the nation are gathering at the Red Lion Inn in downtown Seattle to send the message to the National Governor’s Association (NGA) to govern toward community. The current Medicaid bias has caused states to invest their resources in costly and undesirable institutions. ADAPT is in town to remind the NGA that Americans prefer the community, and reinforced by the
1999 Olmstead decision, it is the right of every American.
The Medicaid bias was began over thirty years ago in the forming the Medicaid program. At that time, Americans with disabilities were expected to receive long-term services and supports in institutions, and Medicaid statute made institutional care mandatory for a state to qualify for the federal Medicaid funds. Since the
1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, citizens expect inclusion in the community. The for-profit nursing home industry, that has developed from the exclusive federal guarantee of Medicaid funds; however, sees the desirable and cost effective home and community-based services as a threat to their profits.
ADAPT and the NGA have a lot in common: goals of assuring inclusion of citizens and also effective use of federal long-term care funding. The nursing home lobby, however, is wealthy and powerful. They work to keep the public funds flowing into their pockets without any control from the Americans the money is intended to assist. The current Medicaid bias funds facilities over people.
"Governors have a responsibility to guard and enforce the rights of all their citizens not just the wealthy or powerful few," said Bob Kafka, National ADAPT Organizer. "Our right to live freely in our own homes like other citizens has never been acknowledged and protected by the nation's governors. As a group, they have issued pro-community position papers, but in practice, community services are the first to be cut even though they're cheaper than institutions. And right now they are pushing Congress to block grant Medicaid, which would only mean that more older people and people with disabilities would be kept in or forced into nursing homes and other institutional settings."
The 2004 Seattle ADAPT Action begins today (July 17, 2004) with a rally at Victor Steinbrueck Park in downtown Seattle where ADAPT will announce the ten worst US states at providing home and community alternatives to institutions. The expected route of the ADAPT “protest march” was published on the front page of the local section of The Seattle Times. ADAPT was not identified, but locals were told that “navigating the city’s core could be difficult.”
ADAPT activists last summer lead the successful Free Our People March, a 144-mile civil rights march from Philadelphia to Washington DC to highlight the need for choices in long-term care. More Americans are demanding an end to the Medicaid bias that favors facilities. People with disabilities are leading the march to change the Medicaid bias and give Americans choices. ADAPT is likely the most diverse group ever known. Most people notice the large number of wheelchair users in ADAPT, but ADAPT represents a broad spectrum of disabilities, as well as, diversity in race, creed, gender income and family status. ADAPT is a varied yet highly organized family.
Progress has been made over the past dozen or so years and more people that once were forgotten in facilities are now living in the community. One result of the progress is that individuals who have been unfairly institutionalized are now angry at the current national policy that has stolen part of their lives. The disjointed national policy means that citizens in some states have community options, while other states offer little more than expensive and unwanted institutions. The fragmented national policy will be exposed by the ADAPT ten worst state list.
ADAPT is not simply pointing out problems in the nations long-term care system and state ineptitude. ADAPT supports national legislation that will address this problem and bring choice to the fractured and outdated Medicaid system: MiCASSA. ADAPT chapters from all over the country have been working for months to raise the money to bring activists to the action in Seattle. MiCASSA is the prime objective of ADAPT, and advocates want to bring choice to our old and broken Medicaid system.
Olmstead, the U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1999, declared an individual's right to live in the community. It prohibited states from unnecessary institutionalization and affirmed the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act mandate to provide services, like those provided in nursing homes and other institutions, in the most integrated setting. Now is the time to govern toward community.
- Tim Wheat