For Immediate Release: February 15, 2010
For Information Contact
Jennifer McPhail 512-627-5868
Nancy Salandra 215-779-1014
DNC Resolution Pledges Olmstead Support; HHS OCR Agrees to Meet
ADAPT's Defending Our Freedom Campaign: Two Weeks, Two Victories
Philadelphia, PA - Two weeks into ADAPT's Defending Our Freedom Campaign, there are already two victories. One, a resolution passed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), has its roots in ADAPT's four-day and four-night protest vigil last July, held outside the DNC headquarters in Washington, D.C. despite torrential rains and no shelter for activists. The second victory is a meeting with staff from the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR) scheduled for mid-April just prior to the spring ADAPT action in Washington.
On Thursday, February 4, ten members of ADAPT from across the nation attended the DNC Resolution Committee meeting in Washington, D.C. The committee unanimously passed a resolution that states, in part, "WHEREAS, efforts must be made on the state and federal level to eliminate institutional biases that unfairly discriminate against Americans with disabilities in obtaining long term service and support in programs such as Medicaid ... the DNC will encourage and support efforts to vigorously enforce the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision."
The Olmstead decision affirmed provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that mandate people with disabilities should receive needed services and supports in "the most integrated setting," typically the community.
"Some people thought our protest outside the DNC last summer was an exercise in futility," said Jennifer McPhail, ADAPT organizer from Austin, Texas, "especially because so many of us who use wheelchairs slept outside each night, in pouring rain and wind, with only garbage bags or the occasional tarp for shelter. We had provided our own accessible porta-potty, but the DNC had it hauled away. Despite all that, we persisted in following the process laid out by the DNC, and now we have this historic resolution to show for all hell we went through last July."
Members of the DNC Resolution Committee included Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Lee Saunders, assistant to AFSCME President, Gerald McEntee. AFSCME currently represents staff in many state operated institutions, but is working to support the Community Choice Act (CCA), legislation that would let older and disabled individuals choose to receive needed supports and services in their own homes instead of being forced into nursing facilities and other institutions by the institutional bias in the nation's Medicaid program. In addition to passing the resolution condemning the Medicaid institutional bias, the committee also pledged to sending both the resolution and all of ADAPT's educational materials on the CCA to every Democratic state and federal legislator in the country.
"With the resolution from the Democrats and our upcoming meeting with the folks from HHS Office of Civil Rights, we feel like we are gaining ground in this battle to become free, and stay free," said Nancy Salandra, ADAPT organizer in Philadelphia. "You would think that between this country's Constitution, and laws like the ADA, we should already have the right to live in our own homes and communities, but that's not how Congress has structured the funding for the supports we are entitled to receive. So, the resolution and the meeting are two more actions to make sure that the law is followed and our civil rights are protected."
ADAPT's Defending Our Freedom campaign continues to gather media reports of the harm being done to disabled and older Americans by state budget cuts. The campaign also welcomes stories of how people in the states are fighting back against the cuts. ADAPT is additionally encouraging people who want out of institutional settings and the people assisting them to file OCR complaints. ADAPT will follow up on those complaints at the meeting with HHS OCR and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and will hold the HHS OCR staff accountable for resolving the complaints.
Send media reports, and "fighting back" accounts and pictures to email@example.com.
See those reports, and accounts and pictures on http://www.defendingourfreedom2010.blogspot.com/.
File a complaint at http://hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/complaints/index.html
and send a copy to DOF.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign on to support the Defending Our Freedom Campaign at DOF.email@example.com, and see the growing list of supporters at http://www.adapt.org/doflist.php.
Additional information on the Defending Our Freedom Campaign can be found at www.adapt.org/adapt-campaign.html.
NATIONAL ADAPT MAILING LIST - Adapt Community Choice Act List http://www.adapt.org/
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