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Free Our People Marchers, Advocates Near Nation's Capital
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 15, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC--Disability rights advocates from around the country are getting ready to converge on Capitol Hill Wednesday for what may be the largest event of its kind -- the Free Our People rally.

A crowd of 20,000 is expected for the 1:00 p.m. rally to bring Congressional attention to the Medicaid Community-based Attendant Services and Supports Act (MiCASSA).

The legislation, which has been introduced into Congress four times since 1997, would change the current bias in Medicaid that favors nursing homes and other institutions over community-based supports. MiCASSA, introduced this year as S 971 and HR 2032, would allow Medicaid recipients to use their benefit money to purchase in-home supports that would allow them to stay in their own homes at a reduced cost to taxpayers. The measure has been opposed by the nursing home lobby, among other groups.

About 160 disability rights activists from the grassroots advocacy group ADAPT left the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia September 4 on the Free Our People March. They are expected to join the rally in Washington, DC Wednesday.

The ADAPT marchers, many in wheelchairs, have been carrying their message throughout communities in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland on their 144-mile trek.

"We're challenging Congress' leadership, saying this piece of legislation has to be the number-one priority of the 108th Congress," said ADAPT organizer Bob Kafka.

Organizers noted that the publicity generated by the march has helped them to secure meetings with the Bush Administration and with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to discuss supporting MiCASSA during this session.

Related resources:
Free Our People
"ADAPT March Approaches Washington" by Marsha Katz (ADAPT)
Statement on MiCASSA (National Council on Disability)
Rally backs home care for disabled (Baltimore Sun),0,2872204.story?
The Medicaid Community Attendant Services Act, MiCASSA (ADAPT)


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