For Information Contact:
Bob Kafka 512-431-4085
Marsha Katz 406-544-9504
Washington, D.C.---Fed up with being the targets of Congressional Medicaid cuts, and being pitted against Katrina survivors for essential services, 500 ADAPT activists occupied the offices of Congressional leaders for 5 hours Monday, resulting in 104 arrests. "Low income people with disabilities are hemorrhaging as a result of the continual cuts to Medicaid by the states and Congress," said Barb Toomer, ADAPT Organizer from Utah. "The leaders of the House and Senate are obviously in a position to stop the bleeding, so we came directly to them. We feel these cuts very personally, and we wanted the Senators and Representatives to feel it personally, too."
Entering the offices of Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Harry Reid ( D-NV), and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), ADAPT presented each with the following demands;
1. Support restoration of the proposed $10 billion Medicaid cuts.
2. No arbitrary caps on Medicaid, or block granting of Medicaid funds.
3. Eliminate the institutional bias in Medicaid by supporting MiCASSA (S .401, H.R. 910 ) and Money Follows the Person (S. 528, H.R. 3063)
4. Fund HUD housing vouchers for all people transitioning from nursing homes and other institutions to integrated community living.
5. Sponsor an initiative to address long term care services, durable medical equipment, assistive technology, support services, service animals and community housing for Katrina evacuees with disabilities.
The occupation of the offices in the Hart, Cannon, and Rayburn buildings followed a morning press conference held next to FEMA Headquarters, and attended by FEMA staff. ADAPT Organizers from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama called into the press conference from their home states to inform the crowd by speakerphone about the state of affairs for Katrina survivors with disabilities in their respective areas. They spoke of people with disabilities being the last people evacuated, being actually turned away from shelters because of their disabilities or because they had no attendants with them, being separated from family, caregivers and necessary equipment and service animals, and now languishing in nursing homes and other institutions unconnected to the official resources being made available to the majority of Katrina survivors.
"This really is a matter of our life and death," said Randy Alexander, Tennessee ADAPT Organizer. "A few months ago, Tennessee Gov. Bredesen drastically cut back TennCare, including home care services for people who use ventilators. He openly admitted that he was forcing these people into nursing homes. Just today we got word that we have suffered the first death of a ventilator user, the first casualty of Gov. Bredesen's heartless cuts. Unless Congress acts, the deaths will continue."
ADAPT is in Washington through Thursday of this week to demand legislation and policy from any corner of the federal government with the power to assure that people with disabilities of all ages have what they need to live lives of dignity and choice in their communities.
FOR MORE INFORMATION on ADAPT visit our website at http://www.adapt.org/