ADAPT calls for the NGA to pass the long-term care resolution.
(WASHINGTON DC, Feb. 27, 2005) Hundreds of activists from across the nation are gathering at the Holiday Inn in downtown Washington DC to persuade the National Governor’s Association (NGA) to pass the
ADAPT Long-term care resolution without watering it down. The current Medicaid bias has caused states to invest their resources in costly and undesirable institutions rather than home and community long-term services. ADAPT is in the Capitol to remind the NGA that Americans prefer the community and, reinforced by the 1999 Olmstead decision, it is the right of every American.
Last July, at the NGA’s summer conference in Seattle, ADAPT was successful in having a resolution introduced that spoke plainly of the priority of community options to expensive institutional care. Because the federal Medicaid program requires institutional long-term care, US states facing budget problems turn to home and community based programs to make cuts.
“First, we can ensure that seniors and people with disabilities get long-term care where they want it,” said the new Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Governor of Utah Mike Leavitt. “Providing the care that lets people live at home if they want is less expensive than providing nursing home care. It frees up resources that can help other people. And obviously, many people are happier living at home.”
ADAPT and the NGA have a lot in common: the goal of including 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 citizens the money is intended to assist. The current Medicaid bias funds facilities over people.
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 looks powerful coming into Washington because MiCASSA has been introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. ADAPT activists talk of S. 401 and HR 910, the bill numbers for MiCASSA and “Money Follows the Person” as the legislation that will give Americans choice in long-term care and stop the bias that devalues citizens and locks away Americans. Senators Tom Harkin (D, IA) and Arlen Specter (R, PA), and Representatives Danny Davis (D, IL) and John Shimkus (R, IL) introduced MiCASSA to reform Medicaid the Medicaid Community Attendants Services and Supports Act.
Two summers ago, ADAPT activists 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.
"These are very tough times for America's most vulnerable citizens," said Bob Liston, Montana State Organizer, "and ADAPT is committed to doing whatever it takes to prevent Medicaid cuts and caps, thus preventing our being institutionalized against our wishes and losing our freedom. We won't go away, and we'll keep after those in power until they listen, and assure we have the same rights as the rest of America."
- Tim Wheat