Able News


Large-Scale Protest Executed in D.C.

Nadina LaSpina, seated center, was one of 19 people occupying Rep. Joe Barton’s office. The police were getting ready to make arrests.PHOTO BY TIM WHEAT

-ADAPT, the nation’s largest grassroots disability rights organization, went to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17, with a simple message on Medicaid cuts and housing – “Don’t target low-income people with disabilities.”
-They left on Sept. 22, having made their point to the Congressional leadership, the National Governors Association (NGA), officials at Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Health and Human Services (
-Outraged by Congressional plans to cut $10 billion from the Medicaid budget, on Sept. 19, 104 of the 500 ADAPT activists were arrested after occupying the offices of Sens. Grassley (RIowa), Reid (D-Nev.) and Frist (RTenn.), and Reps. Pelosi (D-Calif.), Barton(R-Texas), Hastert (R-Ill.) and Delay (R-Texas). The next day, all of Congress was able to read about ADAPT’s demands for no caps or block granting in Medicaid and restoration of the planned $10 billion in cuts on the front page of their in-house newspaper, Roll Call.
-HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson came out of the HUD building to face ADAPT. He committed to work with them on Section 8 housing voucher implementation after ADAPT appeared at both his house in Virginia and HUD headquarters in D.C.
-Police officer speaks with protestors in the Capitol BuildingWhile ADAPT waited for Jackson, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) handdelivered a statement from DNC Chair Howard Dean on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, supporting ADAPT’s position on fixing the current dysfunctional disability service and support system instead of putting on a legislative quick fix that may provide little, if any, relief to anyone.
-The statement said, in part, “We have an opportunity to address the problems revealed in the aftermath of this tragedy. Americans need real leadership that includes a reconstruction effort that includes the needs of Americans with disabilities, one that provides a model for a system in which Americans with disabilities are integrated into their homes and communities and not forced into nursing homes and institutions. President Bush and Republicans in Washington should join Democrats in working to ensure that Americans with disabilities are fully integrated into our society and included in our emergency preparedness plans, so that, moving forward, they are never again left behind.”
Since Katrina, they told me that I am now number 300, and unless both my parents die, it will be a long, long time before I get Section 8.SUSAN EDWARDS Georgia ADAPT member
-“We are pleased that Secretary Jackson did what no HUD secretary before him has done, namely, come to us in the street, outside the HUD fortress, and pledge to work together to improve the lives of people with disabilities,” said Shona Eakin, Pennsylvania ADAPT organizer. “We have made real progress in recent years getting people out of nursing homes using our own ingenuity, perseverance and the Medicaid System Change Grants. Our biggest challenge remains finding accessible, affordable, integrated housing for people to move into when they leave the nursing home.”
-I’ve been waiting for a long time for my name to get to the top of the Section 8 waiting list in Atlanta,” said Susan Edwards, a Georgia ADAPT member. “Before Katrina, Section 8 told me I was number 100 on the list.”
-“Since Katrina, they told me that I am now number 300, and unless both my parents die, it will be a long, long time before I get Section 8,” Edwards continued. “I’m really glad that Secretary Jackson is going to work with ADAPT on voucher implementation for people leaving nursing homes, but what about me? Will I die before my name gets to the top of the list and I finally get a chance to have my own home, too?”
-Since ADAPT’s visits to both HUD and HHS, HHS Secretary Margaret Giannini has begun to gather information about Katrina evacuees with disabilities shipped to nursing homes around the country and has pledged to work with HUD to get those people into temporary community housing, just like other evacuees.Protesters sit with casket that represents those who’ve died waiting for community based services.
-The next day, ADAPT marched two miles to NGA offices behind a flower-draped casket that represented those who have died waiting for community based services. NGA Executive Director Ray Sheppach came outside to address ADAPT, promising to fax their demands to all of the nation’s governors, but generally framing his own responses to the demands with the NGA party line about “states rights.”
-“Funny thing about states’ rights,” said Wisconsin ADAPT organizer Toby Tyler. “The states don’t want the federal government telling them what to do to run their affairs, yet they have no qualms about telling us what to do to run ours. Well, we aren’t about to let that go unchallenged. ADAPT will start hitting the nation’s governors and will keep on hitting them until they stop targeting low income people with disabilities with their budget cuts.”
-“This really is a matter of our life and death,” said Randy Alexander, Tennessee ADAPT organizer. “A few months ago, Tennessee Gov. Bredesen drastically cut back TennCare, including home care services for people who use ventilators. He openly admitted that he was forcing these people into nursing homes. Just today we got word that we have suffered the first death of a ventilator user, the first casualty of Gov. Bredesen’s heartless cuts. Unless Congress acts, acts, the deaths will continue.”