Demonstrators Deliver Demands To TennCare And HUD Offices
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 22, 2006
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE--Two days of protests and traffic gridlock were followed Wednesday by much quieter scenes in Nashville, thanks in part to the relatively quick response by a federal housing official.
Hundreds of demonstrators from the grassroots disability rights group ADAPT delivered a sign to the office of TennCare, the state's healthcare program. The sign outlined the group's demands that the state government provide in-home supports for 6,700 people who want to get out of nursing homes. Because a line of State Police guarded the doors to the building, the protesters left the sign at the troopers' feet.
The group, most of them in wheelchairs, then traveled to the Nashville offices of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. After chanting for less than one hour, Director William Dirl came out to meet the demonstrators. Cassie James, Campaign Coordinator for Access Across America, presented Dirl with a letter for HUD Secretary Alfonso Jackson.
According to an ADAPT press release, the letter calls on Jackson to help rebalance the institutional bias in the nation's long-term care system; improve the timing and coordination of affordable, accessible, integrated housing with home and community-based services; implement the goals of President Bush's New Freedom Initiative; and assist states in implementing the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Olmstead v. L.C. & E.W., which found that unnecessarily institutionalizing people with disabilities violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"See, when you meet with us, we go away," James said.
ADAPT estimated that 400 advocates from around the country came to Nashville to draw attention to the institutional bias that exists in the nation's long-term care system. Dozens of them were arrested on Monday and Tuesday after they blocked traffic in the state capital's government district.
Tennessee has one of the highest levels of nursing home occupancy in the country. At the same time, Governor Phil Bredesen has cut funding for attendant services and other supports that could help thousands of residents with disabilities to live in the community at a much lower overall cost.
"Capitol shut down to visitors in wake of protests by disabled" (WSMV-TV)
"Governor Bredesen spokesman Bob Corney's letter to the ADAPT protesters" (Tennessean)
"State says Metro let protest get unruly" (Tennessean)
Action Report (ADAPT)