Demonstrators Readied For "Free Our People" Rally
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 16, 2003
WASHINGTON, DC--Thousands of disability rights advocates converged on the nation's capital Tuesday getting ready for the "Free Our People" rally scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. The event is organized by the national grassroots advocacy group ADAPT.
About 160 of those advocates have spent the last 14 days on a 144-mile march from Philadelphia to bring attention to the need to make Medicaid more flexible in allowing people to choose in-home supports over nursing homes or other institutions.
"Everybody is a little tired at this point," said Jim Etzel, an information and referral counselor at the Ability Center of Greater Toledo who has been a part of the "Free Our People" march. "But we realize we're here for a very specific reason."
That reason is MiCASSA, the Medicaid Community-Based Attendant Services and Supports Act, introduced into Congress this year as S 971 and HR 2032. Medicaid regulations currently force thousands of people with disabilities -- regardless of their age -- to be housed in nursing facilities in order to receive long-term care services. MiCASSA would loosen up the regulations to allow Medicaid recipients to purchase supports to remain in their own homes or with family members -- at a substantially lower cost.
MiCASSA was first introduced into Congress in 1997 by then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. In the years since then, the measure has been effectively stalled, primarily by the powerful nursing home lobby. The advocates are in Washington to pressure Congress to pass it during this term. Dozens of groups support the measure, including the National Council on Aging, National Council on Independent Living, ADA Watch, American Association of People with Disabilities, National Organization on Disability and the Service Employees International Union. MiCASSA has supporters in both major political parties.
ADAPT organizers have a meeting scheduled with the Bush Administration and plan to lobby Congress on Thursday.
"Area disabled trek to D.C. to back long-term home care" (Toledo Blade)
"National Organization on Disability Calls for MiCASSA, Disability Rights at 'Free Our People' Rally Wednesday" (U.S. Newswire) http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=136-09162003
Free Our People
Medicaid Community-Based Attendant Services and Supports Act of 2003