(Washington, D.C.) In previous trips to Washington, ADAPThas targeted the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to protest lack of Democratic support for Medicaid reform but not today. Today, DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe released a statement endorsing the Medicaid Community-based Services and Supports Act (MiCASSA), legislation (S 1298 and H.R. 3612) currently moving through Congress which would remove the institutional bias in Medicaid and allow people to choose to receive long term care services in their own homes in the community.
McAuliffe said that people with disabilities deserve "Real Freedom," not just the "rhetoric" of President Bush's New Freedom Initiative. "Real Freedom means real choice in where people with disabilities receive long term care services and
support," said McAuliffe. "We need federal legislation like MiCASSA to be enacted that offers Real Freedom for people with and without disabilities and the choice of receiving long-term care services and support in their own homes in the community."
"This endorsement by the Democrats is wonderful news," said Shona Eakin, ADAPTOrganizer from Erie, PA., "and it should result in a significant and noticeable increase in co-sponsors for the two bills, and hopefully, passage before the election this fall."
The endorsement comes on the eve of a press event for MiCASSA to be held in the Russell Senate Building at noon, May 15. Speakers at the event include S 1298 co-sponsors Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), and H.R. co-sponsors Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and John Shimkus (R-IL), representatives from major disability organizations, and individuals who have personal stories illustrating the need for MiCASSA.
"There are a number of people here with ADAPTin Washington this week who have only been out of nursing homes a few months, " said Babs Johnson ADAPTColorado. "They are barely settled in their own homes and communities, but wanted to be here with us this week to fight for the freedom of their friends still waiting for an aide to get them out of bed or help them use the bathroom in the nursing home."
McAuliffe's endorsement of MiCASSA on behalf of the DNC sends a clear message that the party recognizes the need for Medicaid reform in order to eliminate the continued segregation in institutional settings faced by many people with disabilities, old and young, across the country. When passed, MiCASSA would also assist states to provide freedom of choice in long term care without spending precious state resources crafting Medicaid waivers with limited slots, and long waiting lists for services.
"Back home in Utah, we are one of the few states with a Medicaid waiver for persons who have traumatic brain injuries," said Kay Fox, ADAPTUtah. "The bad news is that the state is allowing only 2 people a year to move onto the waiver and then into their own home. One man we're helping to get out of a nursing home is 28th on the waiting list. When you do the math, that means he's going to wait 14 years before he can have a life. We need MiCASSA now!"
Link to the DNC Press Release: http://www.democrats.org/news/200205150003.html