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ADAPT Protesters Take Over Offices Of Congressional Leadership
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 19, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC--Several hundred disability rights activists took over the private offices of leaders in both the House and Senate Monday, to pressure lawmakers to restore cuts to Medicaid, the state and federally-funded health care program for poor people, and to pass legislation to remove the institutional bias in long-term care.

According to ADAPT, the grassroots advocacy group that organized the civil disobedience action, Capital Police arrested 104 protesters who refused to leave the offices of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

Demonstrators in groups of 50 or 60 presented each office with a list of demands, including that Congressional leaders support MiCASSA, the Medicaid Community-Based Attendant Services and Supports Act of 2005, and MFP, the Money Follows the Person Act. These measures would give Medicaid recipients more flexibility in choosing services in their own homes rather than nursing homes and other institutions.

The protesters also demanded that lawmakers support restoration of a proposed $10 billion in Medicaid cuts, to fund federal housing vouchers for people moving from institutions and into community living, and to reject proposals to block grant Medicaid funds or place arbitrary caps on them.

ADAPT drew attention to the fact that people with disabilities in the Gulf Coast were disproportionately affected by Hurricane Katrina.

"Katrina created a visible emergency that represents only the tip of the iceberg of the invisible emergency of poverty and disability services," said Stephanie Thomas, National ADAPT Organizer in a press statement. "The whole disability services and supports system needs fixing, for Katrina survivors and for all Americans with disabilities."

The protesters asked the leadership to sponsor an initiative to address long-term care services, durable medical equipment, assistive technology, service animals and community housing for evacuees with disabilities forced from their homes by the storm.

"People with disabilities need long term services and supports, as will many of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina who have lost their homes, and life as they knew it," said Bob Liston, ADAPT organizer from Montana. "Now is not the time for Congress to pit the needs of the survivors against the ongoing needs of poor people with disabilities."

"Congress shouldn’t be trying to put band-aids on our dysfunctional support system, but should be enacting legislation like Money Follows the Person to provide needed reform that will improve our community support infrastructure for everyone."

Related:
"Angry Activists Arrested on Capitol Hill" (ADAPT)

http://www.adapt.org/freeourpeople/aar/wdc05/rpt02a.htm
Fall ADAPT Action
http://www.adapt.org/freeourpeople/aar/wdc05/

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