Monday, April 28, 2008

Press Release :: ADAPT Wins Meeting with HHS to Work on Medicaid Reform..

HOT off the Presses..

Cyber hugs from Talking Rock.. :wink:

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2008

For information contact:

ADAPT Activists Win Meeting with HHS Sec. Michael Leavitt to Work on Medicaid Reform :: HHS Staff Affirms that Access to Community is a Civil Right

Washington, D.C.--- 500 ADAPT activists closed off all access to the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, headquarters for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and kept it closed until HHS Sec. Michael Leavitt agreed to meet with ADAPT on the multiple policies that force people into nursing homes and other institutions, and prevent them from moving back to their own homes and communities.

75 ADAPT members entered the HHS building before security locked all the doors, and presented the ADAPT demands in the initial negotiations with HHS staff. The demands included:

  • Meet with leaders of ADAPT within 30 days, with the understanding that access to the community is a civil right that can be improved by the following measures. The meeting can clarify any of the following and identify other barriers to home and community based services in all 50 states;
  • Improve the implementation of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration Projects by increasing the flexibility states have;
  • IMMEDIATELY eliminate any rules that cause undue burdens regarding case management;
  • Eliminate any rules that discourage small grassroots providers, like Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and other non-profits, from meeting the needs of the consumers they serve;
  • Eliminate any regulations and interpretations of "spousal impoverishment" and "risk" that promote institutionalization of persons with disabilities;
  • Work with ADAPT to pass the Community Choice Act (S 799 and HR 1621).

"People need to be able to choose to live in their own homes, near their families and friends," said Dawn Russell of Texas ADAPT. "Families shouldn't be torn apart by mean-spirited Medicaid policies and regulations that force some people into nursing homes or even to leave their home state in order to get the community-based services and supports they need."

After a six hour standoff, Philo Hall, Counselor to Sec. Leavitt, committed to Leavitt meeting with ADAPT within 30 days as he addressed the crowd in the pouring rain. He began by acknowledging that access to the community is definitely a civil right. Then Hall admitted that HHS has fallen behind in its former regular communication with ADAPT, and acknowledged that the lack of communication has contributed to HHS making some not-well-thought-out decisions that have hurt the disability community. Renewed communication will begin immediately with another meeting between ADAPT and HHS staff on Wednesday, April 30.

"You know, President Bush's first Executive Order was the New Freedom Initiative (NFI), which ordered all federal departments to remove barriers to full community participation for people with disabilities," said Bob Kafka, ADAPT National Organizer. We've been making slow but steady progress until the past couple of years when it seemed like the Medicaid folks forgot the President's order and started reinstituting policies that will push people back into institutions. We're hoping that after today ADAPT will work with us to reverse the current trend, and assure older and disabled Americans can live full lives in their community."

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