(SEATTLE) When the National Governors Association (NGA) meets in Seattle, July 17-20, ADAPT members from over 30 states will be there to challenge their governors on both Long Term Care and the institutionally biased Medicaid policy that sees twice as many Medicaid dollars going to institutional settings as to community settings. ADAPT will also announce the ten states that are doing the worst job in providing community based services for their older and disabled citizens, despite the fact that, overall, community services cost less than institutionally based services.
The increasing push toward "states rights" has resulted in states and their governors becoming more powerful players in the battle for all human services. Recent state fiscal crises have seen many of those governors threatening and making deep cuts in their states' Medicaid budgets. Medicaid is the primary funding for community based long term care services, community based developmental disability and mental health services, and for the health care, technology and prescriptions that allow people with disabilities and older persons to live in their own homes in the community rather than be forced into institutional settings.
"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."
June 21, 2004 marked the 5th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision in which the Court affirmed the right of persons with disabilities to live in the community instead of being "segregated" in institutional settings. States were encouraged to develop plans outlining their commitment to move people from institutions at a reasonable pace into less restrictive, less expensive community settings. Statistics from the Federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services show that states have made little progress since the Supreme Court mandate. To illustrate how little states have done, even though long term care is finally on the NGA radar screen, ADAPT will announce the ten states with the poorest records on supporting community based long term care.
"In addition to complying with the Olmstead decision, we want the Governors to oppose any attempt to block grant Medicaid, and we want them to support current legislation, MiCASSA and Money Follows the Person, that would guarantee people the choice to live in their own home and community," said Kafka.
MiCASSA, the Medicaid Community-based Attendant Services and Supports Act, SB 971 and HR 2032, removes the institutional bias from the Medicaid program. Money Follows the Person, SB 1394, would let people currently warehoused in nursing homes and other institutional settings move into their own homes with their support dollars following them into the community. In essence, the support dollars would be attached to the person, not a facility.
ADAPT will be in Seattle for a week, repeating to the Governors its message of "No More Stolen Lives; Community First", and "Families not Facilities", while also supporting the efforts of Washington activists who want to see the state's institutions closed, and community based services protected and strengthened.