WASHINGTON - March 25 - It may be an election year, but that hasnt deterred ADAPT from its commitment to make 2004 the year in which the institutional bias is removed from the Medicaid long term care program. Toward that end, the 500 ADAPT members from 30 states were all over town the past week hitting a variety of targets that can move MiCASSA (S.971, H.R. 2032) and the Money Follows the Person Act (MFPA, S.1394) toward passage. In the process they turned 129 arrests into a Senate Finance Committee April 7 hearing on MiCASSA and MFPA.
Starting with the President, ADAPT marched to the White House on Sunday, March 21, at sundown. As a vigil was held for all the people who have died in nursing homes and institutions, and who are still waiting to be freed, institutional survivors told their stories. The crowd finished with messages to President George W. Bush demanding No More Stolen Lives: End the Institutional Bias and No More Waiting for Home and Community Services.
Just before the march and vigil ADAPT participated in the Public Policy Collaborations Government Affairs Seminar, presenting on MiCASSA and MFPA, and showing the assembled members of the Arc, UCP, AAMR, AUCD and NADDC a nine minute video from last Septembers Free Our People March which many of them supported financially.
On Monday, March 22, ADAPT hit a different part of the administration, staging a lie-in at the Health and Human Services building for six hours in freezing temperatures. Their efforts resulted in a meeting with Mark McClellan, the incoming Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), the resumption of regular meetings between CMS and ADAPT, and a commitment from CMS to issue a letter to state Medicaid Directors encouraging them to use the power they already have to move funding from nursing homes into community services so more people can be served in the community without having to wait for legislative changes. Monday was also the day Presidential Candidate John Kerry issued a strong statement of support for ADAPT and removing the Medicaid institutional bias.
Tuesday found ADAPT on the Hill distributing information about MiCASSA and MFPA to every member of Congress. Then, having already waited eight months for the Senate Finance Committee to hold a hearing on MiCASSA and move it to the Senate floor, more than 400 ADAPT members occupied the Finance Committee Hearing Room and hallway while they held the Peoples Hearing on both MiCASSA and MFPA. Their refusal to vacate the hearing room when the staff of Finance Committee Chair Sen. Chuck Grassley declined to put in writing their agreement to hold hearings specifically on MiCASSA and MFPA, resulted in the arrests.
On Wednesday, however, representatives of ADAPT and three other organizations, the National Council on Independent Living, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Advancing Independence Modernizing Medicare and Medicaid, had a positive meeting with Finance Committee ranking Democrat, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who committed to add MiCASSA and MFPA to the April 7 hearing on the Presidents New Freedom Initiative. ADAPT will testify at the hearing Also on Wednesday, hundreds of ADAPT members delivered a letter to AARP Headquarters for CEO William D. Novelli, calling for a meeting to work on ways AARP can actively support MiCASSA, and continue to partner with ADAPT on issues of mutual concern. That meeting will take place before July 4th. ADAPT scored additional meetings with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Thomas Daschle (D-SD), and leaves town having turned empty promises into a hearing and renewed commitments from others to partner with ADAPT to end the institutional bias in 2004.