Able News  April, 2004 issue


Marchers Demonstrate for ‘No More Stolen Lives'

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New York ADAPT coordinator Nadina LaSpina, left, leads a group of demonstrators through the streets of Washington. At right, marchers gather at the Washington Monument.

- Angered by a president they say promised freedom from institutions, then cut the funding needed to achieve that freedom, 500 ADAPT activists and allies marched on Washington, D.C. to protest President Bush’s FY 2004 and 2005 Medicaid budgets. The “No More Stolen Lives” march was followed by a vigil for all the people currently confined in nursing homes and other institutions by administration cuts and the institutionally biased Medicaid policy. Marchers were also
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calling for a meeting with the president, who has never met with members of the disability community.
-"Disability issues are not partisan. Four years ago when President Bush issued his New Freedom Initiative and his executive order mandating implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision, we believed him," said Steve Verriden, Wisconsin ADAPT organizer. "But here we are four years later, facing the worst Medicaid cuts in history, which will, without a doubt, keep people illegally confined in nursing homes and other institutions and force even more people into those settings. This loss of personal freedom and all the president's empty promises are unconscionable because they mean more stolen lives."
Bush's New Freedom Initiative articulated that people with disabilities have the right to access all parts of their community and the American way of life. It directed all federal departments to assess and plan removal of barriers that prevent people with disabilities from having that access.
- According to ADAPT the Olmstead Executive Order promised older and disabled Americans home and community based services and supports, instead of the forced institutionalization that results from the institutional bias in the nation's Medicaid program. States must pay for nursing home services, but are not required to pay for the same services in a person's own home and community.
-"The people who led our march were those who have had years of their lives stolen by the Medicaid institutional bias," said Cassie Jones, Philadelphia ADAPT organizer. "We want the president to hear loud and clear that we are tired of having to wait for our freedom." "We're lying cuz you're lying," was the name of the demonstration at the HHS (Health and Human Services) building, where there was an early morning lie-in. Wheelchair users slid out of their chairs and crawled into sleeping bags on foam mats and they were served breakfast in bed.
-According to ADAPT, the momentum to reverse the institutional bias in the nation's long term care system by HHS has ground to a halt. Thousands of people with disabilities and older Americans are still unnecessarily being forced into nursing homes and other institutions because of the inaction of HHS coupled with the administrations proposed cuts to and caps on Medicaid.
-As part of this grassroots campaign, ADAPT urged disability advocates to contact Sen. Charles Grassley, asking him to introduce the legislation that includes Money Follows the Individual, as well as schedule hearings on MiCASSA. According to ADAPT, his office has had this draft legislation since July 25, 2003 and nothing has been introduced. He says he will hold hearings but has not set a date. For information contact ADAPT, 512 442-0252 .