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ADAPT's Peaceful Actions Net Community Support Meetings With Top Officials
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 15, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC--About 500 activists with the disability rights group ADAPT (American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today) were busy this week in the nation's capital, using peaceful demonstrations to say "No More Excuses!" to housing and healthcare officials, and to push for affordable and accessible housing and changes to Medicaid that would help people with disabilities to live in their own homes rather than nursing homes or other institutions.

Unlike in previous years, the officials were quick to agree to meet ADAPT's demands, thereby keeping the group from resorting to more confrontational civil disobedience techniques such as sit-ins and traffic shut-downs, and dealing with massive arrests.

According to a Tuesday press release, the activists, most in wheelchairs, occupied the lobby of a hotel where the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association was meeting, along with the offices of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities. Leaders of both public housing associations agreed to set up meetings with ADAPT organizers in coming weeks. ADAPT wants the groups to endorse its "Access Across America" campaign, which would help more people leave shelters, nursing homes and other institutions and move into the community.

Also on Tuesday, ADAPT members met with the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, which agreed to support MiCASSA, the Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act, recently renamed the "Community Choice Act". This measure, which was first introduced into Congress in 1997, would allow Medicaid recipients to use their long-term care funds to live at home and avoid institutional treatment.

ADAPT members packed the lobby of the Capital Hilton Hotel Wednesday and successfully pushed for a meeting with Karen Ignagni, CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade association for managed health care organizations. ADAPT wants a commitment from AHIP to make sure its contracts with individual states include, among other things, a focus on providing community-based supports, durable medical equipment, and assistive technology.

"We as people with disabilities want the managed care community to understand that we want to live on our own," ADAPT organizer Bob Kafka told NPR's Joseph Shapiro for a story that ran on Friday's Morning Edition.

The activists secured commitments on Thursday from Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman to meet to discuss having the GOP support Access Across America and MiCASSA, and from Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Kim Kendrick to direct Public Housing Authorities across the country to set aside a number of Section 8 housing vouchers for Medicaid-eligible persons leaving shelters, nursing homes and other institutions.

"I don't think I have ever seen people yield so quickly," an activist identified as "Babs" told ADAPT's Tim Wheat. "I think it comes from the fact that we do just what we say we will do. If we say we are not leaving this hotel lobby without you meeting our demands -- then that is exactly what we will do."

Related:
ADAPT Action Reports, Photos, and News Releases (ADAPT Press Releases)
Disabled Activists Win Battle for Independent Care by Joseph Shapiro (National Public Radio)

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