For Immediate Release
Bruce Darling (585)362-9843
Cassie James (215) 219-0694
Washington, DC - Throughout the day Thursday and overnight into Friday, ADAPT activists maintained their vigil at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) at 430 South Capitol Street SW, Washington, DC. The group was forced to cope with several electrical storms and torrential downpours that flooded the street with 6 inches of water. ADAPT has been at the DNC headquarters since the protest began, Tuesday at approximately 1:00 PM.
During the protest Wednesday, DNC staff called the police on protestors when a woman with a developmental disability used a megaphone outside the building to pursue a response to ADAPT's request for a meeting with Chairman Kaine. The DNC staff again called police when a "Gremlins" toy, belonging to the same woman, was placed on the stairs leading to the front door of the DNC headquarters. Finally, DNC staff contacted the Department of Transportation to have them remove the accessible port-a-john that ADAPT had delivered on Wednesday to a location nearby. "It seems they would prefer us to be 'out of sight and out of mind' like our brothers and sisters in nursing facilities and other institutions," said Denise McMullin Powell of Delaware.
The DNC has refused to meet any of ADAPT's demands, including facilitating a meeting with Congressional leaders and White House staff on health care reform, apologizing for the Democrats' role in establishing the institutional bias in long term care, and issuing a letter calling for the end of the institution bias in 2009. DNC staff that have talked with ADAPT have not gotten approval from DNC chairman Tim Kaine to schedule a meeting with ADAPT.
"We are very disappointed to see the DNC and Democratic leadership uniformly reject our demands," said Tom Earle of Philadelphia. Mr. Earle continued, "However, we have been pleasantly surprised by the number of rank and file Democratic Members of Congress who have stopped to talk with us or even sought us out. We have definitely seen increasing support among these members for ending the institutional bias of Medicaid and for passing the Community Choice Act."
While ADAPT members in DC maintained their vigil at DNC headquarters, ADAPT members in Kansas were successful in getting their state party's support.
ADAPT met with Kansas Democratic Party Executive Director Kenny Johnston this morning. He agreed to lend the Kansas Democrats' support to ADAPT's efforts to eliminate the institutional bias in Medicaid long term care policy and include provisions of CCA in the healthcare reform legislation that Congress is crafting.
Johnston's letter reads, in part, "Last night the President said that the 'stars are aligned' for health care reform. They are also aligned to include the key provisions of the CCA in any reform and end the seventeen year battle to end the institutional bias. I hope the Democratic National Committee and its members will join ADAPT's fight for this much needed piece of legislation." The letter was sent to DNC Chairman Governor Tim Kaine, Senator Max Baucus, Senator Tom Harkin, Rep. Henry Waxman, HHS Secretary (and former Kansas Governor) Kathleen Sebelius and Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson.
ADAPT members in Chicago were also active today. The group rallied outside a fundraiser attended by President Obama. "We are sickened to see the Democrats lining their pockets with cash while refusing to work with ADAPT to ensure that low-income people with disabilities no longer be forced into institutions," said Rahnee Patrick of Chicago.
On Friday afternoon, the President will be signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at the White House. "We are pleased that the President has decided to do this, said Bob Kafka, an ADAPT organizer from Texas, "but ending the institutional bias in U.S. public policies would be a true test of the Obama Administration's commitment to people with disabilities and to the principles in the UN Convention." ADAPT is calling on the President to celebrate the anniversary of the ADA by committing to end the institutional bias in principle and in public policy.
"I just have to point out that signing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at the White House won't make a difference in the lives of Americans with disabilities and older Americans who are trapped in nursing facilities and other institutions," said Chris Hilderbrant of Rochester. "It's time for us to pass the Community Choice Act."
NATIONAL ADAPT MAILING LIST - Adapt Community Choice Act List