ADAPT VISITS D.C.
Advocates Spend 'Action'-Packed
Week in Capital
Nadina LaSpina, right, and Carr Massi, second from right, of New
York ADAPT join demonstrators blocking a Washington street.
week of long ADAPT days, fueled daily by McDonald's hamburger lunches eaten
on the streets while blocking traffic and doors gained attention in Washington,
The week began
on Mother's Day when ADAPT visited the White House with a five foot by
eight foot card for First Lady Laura Bush, and in Houston, visited the
home of former First Lady Barbara Bush, with an identical card, to point
out that 75 percent of those in nursing homes are women. Both cards asked
the two First Ladies to urge President George W. Bush to give American
women the "Gift of Freedom" by supporting Medicaid reform in the form of
the Medicaid Community-based Attendant Services and Supports Act (MiCASSA).
blocking doors and 2 major intersections around the New Executive Office
Building, garnered a meeting with the Director of the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB), Mitchell Daniels, Jr., to challenge his routine quashing
of MiCASSA on a fiscal basis.
after years of tension between the disability rights community and the
nation's unions, ADAPT scored an historic meeting with top union officials
to begin working together to support people in the community while also
assuring their attendants a living wage. And it all happened in the blink
of an eye after ADAPT blocked access to the headquarters of three of the
nation's largest unions, including the American Federation of Labor and
Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
Tuesday was the day MiCASSA received an endorsement from the Democratic
National Committee (DNC) in a statement issued by Chair Terry McAuliffe.
a combination press event/hearing for S 1298 and H.R. 3612, the Medicaid
Community-based Services and Supports Act (MiCASSA), packed a cavernous
hearing room in the Russell Senate Building with so many ADAPT members
and friends that the overflow crowd spilled out into the halls and had
to listen via a sound system.
the event included co-sponsors of both bills, disability organizations
and individuals from the grassroots disability community. The first speaker
introduced by Master of Ceremonies, Courtland Townes III of the National
Council on Independent Living (NCIL), was the patriarch and elder statesman
of the disability rights movement, Justin Dart. Dart set the tone when
he compared being warehoused in a nursing home to being held as a captive
slave, and repeated the refrain, "MiCASSA NOW! Free Our People!" Each time,
the enthusiastic crowd loudly chanted the refrain back to him.
with legislative staff for months to get this event scheduled, and it had
to be postponed in the wake of Sept. 11, so today was the culmination of
a lot of work and waiting," said Stephanie Thomas, National ADAPT Organizer.
"It was amazing to have thousands of people join us by phone, and to have
all our partner organizations here to demand 'MiCASSA now' with us. And,
this event turned out to be such a hot ticket that several co-sponsors
unexpectedly left the House floor to be here, too." After the press event
ADAPT kept the pressure on by lobbying their Senators and Representatives
from 35 states.
"In case anyone
is wondering why we didn't hit HUD while we were here, it's because passing
MiCASSA is our biggest priority right now," said Erik von Schmetterling,
Philadelphia ADAPT. "However, we did visit HUD at 5pm on Tuesday, and when
HUD employees left the building they were greeted by 500 ADAPT members
each sporting a mask of the face of their boss, HUD Secretary Mel Martinez.
We may not have hit HUD this trip, but we weren't about to have Martinez
think he was forgotten or off the hook for HUD's poor showing in its response
to the President's calling for swift elimination of barriers to equality
for persons with disabilities. It really was a great week!"