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May 15: Disability Rights Activists Surround Headquarters And Get Results
May 16: Demonstrators at White House Get Meeting and Assurances
May 17: ADAPT Members Take HUD By Surprise
Links to ADAPT resources and actions


Disability Rights Activists Surround Headquarters And Get Results
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 15, 2001

WASHINGTON, DC--Ahh, it's spring time in the nation's capital.

Flowers are blooming. The birds are chirping.

And over at the Hubert H. Humphrey building, where about 500 disability rights advocates -- many in wheelchairs -- have just blocked off every street level entrance to the building, you hear the voice of unity: "Free our people!".

(Okay, okay, I really don't know if that's what they were chanting. I wasn't there. But I do imagine they were chanting, and if they were, that's what I imagine they would be chanting.)

Members of up to 40 ADAPT chapters are in Washington, enjoying the sunshine . . . and two major victories on their first day in a week of demonstrations designed to gain freedom for thousands of Americans in nursing homes and other institutions.

ADAPT (which began years ago as an acronym for "Americans Disabled for Attendant Programs Today") has been advocating for passage of MiCASSA, the Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act, which would change Medicaid's current bias toward institutional services.

Early Monday morning, the group went to the Humphrey building, home of the Department of Health and Human Services, to schedule a meeting with HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson to discuss MiCASSA and the administration's stated commitment to people with disabilities. Two and a half hours after arriving, the group had no written confirmation of a meeting with Thompson, who was in Geneva, Switzerland.

ADAPT members don't like to wait.

Government officials don't like having their buildings surrounded and access blocked by people and wheelchairs.

They got a commitment in writing from Thompson's staff to meet within the next 60 days.

With this victory, the crowd wasted no time moving to the offices of the American Health Care Association, a nursing home lobbying group, to arrange a similar meeting with their president and CEO.

You can read about what happened at AHCA, and get more information on ADAPT's actions this week, from this website hosted by the Memphis Center for Independent Living:

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Demonstrators at White House Get Meeting and Assurances
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 16, 2001

WASHINGTON, DC--Bush Administration officials Tuesday gave assurances to a group of demonstrators that the President supports the "integrated settings mandate" of the Olmstead ruling, and within the next 30 days would sign an Executive Order to speed up its implementation.

Several hundred members of the disability rights group ADAPT had lined up along the fence in front of the White House, protesting what they considered the President's "failing grades" on disability issues. Within a few minutes, 16 members of the group were escorted inside for a meeting with officials, including Diane Schacht, Special Assistant to the President for Justice Policy, and John Bridgeland, Director of the President's Domestic Policy Council.

Two hours later, the representatives emerged, telling the crowd they had gotten what they had come for -- a commitment as to when the President would sign the Order, along with assurances that people with disabilities and their allies would be meaningfully involved in educating the public and people at risk of institutionalization about their rights to community services.

One ADAPT organizer said they were "cautiously optimistic" about the President's commitment. Many advocates recalled that George W. Bush was governor of Texas when that state filed what is called an "amicus brief" showing support for states' rights in the U.S. Supreme Court case known as "Olmstead v. L. C.". In June of 1999, the court ruled that states were violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by unnecessarily putting people with disabilities in nursing homes or other institutions.

Members of as many as 40 ADAPT chapters are in the nation's capital this week pushing lawmakers to move more quickly on changing the current focus of the long-term care system from institutions to community and in-home supports.

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ADAPT Members Take HUD By Surprise
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 17, 2001

WASHINGTON, DC--On Wednesday, members of the disability rights group ADAPT got a commitment from the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to meet and talk about housing issues within the next 60 days.

In a Wednesday night press release, organizers said ADAPT had written to HUD Secretary Mel Martinez on two separate occasions to arrange a meeting to discuss affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities. Since they got no firm commitment from the Secretary, and since they were "in the neighborhood", so to speak, the activists -- all 500 of them -- decided to drop by for a visit.

HUD officials must have been expecting the company. Rather than "roll out the red carpet", however, they had placed a line of police and 3-foot high metal barricades at the entrance to the building.

When police got distracted helping passers by, some of the activists darted through the line and into the building. Soon the building was overwhelmed.

After some time, Dan Murphy of the Secretary's staff wrote the letter committing Martinez to a meeting with ADAPT, and announced this to the crowd over a bullhorn.

Ending the week of demonstrations, ADAPT members then visited with members of Congress to discuss legislation that would change the current bias toward institutions for long-term care services.


Links to ADAPT related resources

The Memphis Center for Independent Living hosts information on ADAPT's actions at this web site:

Photos of the May 2001 Washington, DC Action

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