(WASHINGTON DC) Hundreds of ADAPT activists braved 8 hours of Washington snow, rain and cold to assure that the National Governors Association (NGA) would pass a “Community First” resolution at their winter meeting. The language in the final document contained some of what ADAPT has been demanding from the Governors since last July at the NGA annual meeting in Seattle, WA, but omitted language on Olmstead, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed the rights of people with disabilities to choose to live free in the community.
The final document included all aspects of Medicaid and Medicare, but did specifically address ADAPT’s demands in statements like one of the listed Principles for Change, i.e. “…follow the principle that money should follow the individual, not a provider or facility.”
The document additionally addressed ADAPT‘s push to see the majority of Medicaid long term care funding redirected to support community alternatives over institutional ones, the opposite of what happens now. In a section titled “Rebalancing the Long Term Care System” the Governors agreed that “Consumer-directed home and community-based care is preferable…” and should be guided by the “…preferences of the individual receiving long term care support…”
What the document didn’t include was ADAPT’s language that the “…NGA work with the individual states to assure that the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision is aggressively implemented and that the measure of this implementation be, in a year, how many people have gotten out of nursing homes and other institutions and how many people have been diverted from nursing homes and other institutions.”
“In fact, in the final document the NGA refused to include listing MiCASSA, the Medicaid Community-based Attendant Services and Supports Act of 2005, or the Money Follows the Person legislation,” said Randy Alexander, ADAPT Organizer from Memphis, TN. “And they frankly rejected any so-called federal mandates like the Olmstead decision.”
The Governors’ document did request that Congress and the Administration change the institutional bias currently in Medicaid so that states can “…offer elderly and disabled beneficiaries a more balanced choice between nursing home and community-based services.” With removal of the institutional bias, NGA says states will be able to concentrate on “Focused efforts to build the capacity of community supports…” so they will be readily available to people who desire them.
Finally, the NGA resolution seeks Congressional support to help states build “…the infrastructure needed to provide home and community-based long term care services” both in terms of workforce, and other supports and services necessary for “…transition from institutional care to community-based…” living.
“We got as much as we could from the NGA as a group,” said Steve Verriden, ADAPT Organizer from Madison, WI. “Now we need to take it back to our individual states, and hold our individual Governors accountable to the principles they approved in this document, AND to the law of the land, as affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision. The bottom line is to get and keep people with disabilities of all ages out of nursing homes and other institutions.”