44 years ago, Congress passed several historic amendments to the Social Security Act, the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Back then, there were no home ventilators, there were few medications for managing disease, there were no home Hoyer lifts, and Congress couldn’t imagine the elderly and disabled living at home successfully and independently. The technology and possibilities for independent living have been available for over three decades now, but the law has not changed. The feds only mandate that state Medicaid agencies cover long-term care in nursing homes and other institutions. Basically, Pharaoh will only allow you care in a prison-like setting. People with disabilities are forced every day to leave their taxpaying jobs and families behind to go into these prisons. It’s the only way they can get the care needed to stay alive. “Give up your freedom or give up your life,” is no choice at all.
The Pharaoh is now drafting his plan to reform America’s insane health care system, but has said that long-term care, which Medicaid is the number one provider of, will not be reformed in this package. How can they reform health care without addressing long-term care, one of the biggest expenses straining state budgets and bankrupting American families? It is bizarre that legislators and voters could ever see this as a separate issue, when it is one of the worst examples of how badly the system is broken. Institutions cost the most of any long-term care option, but are enshrined in law as mandatory, while home care services, the least expensive option, are slashed to the bone by states because they are “optional.” States are still forcing people with disabilities into institutions, the most costly option, because of the antiquated and discriminatory institutional bias in federal Medicaid law that both parties continue to choose to ignore.
The Democrats created the institutional bias when they drafted Medicaid law 44 years ago. Now, amidst their push to overhaul the system, they are ignoring calls from activists to rectify this injustice. On Tuesday, ADAPT activists, after months of letters and phone calls did not produce results, visited 25 Democratic offices around the country to demand that meetings be scheduled to hear their concerns, and that the Democrats apologize for 44 years of unjust policies that have stolen billions from taxpayers and stolen millions of productive lives from their communities. Here is a video clip of activists visiting Senator Baucus’ office in Missoula, MT and stating their case. Other activists were camped out at the DNC headquarters in Washington DC, keeping vigil until their demands are finally heard. 44 years is enough of this injustice; it’s time to change.
We all owe ADAPT our support. They are putting themselves on the line, facing arrest, threats, getting carried out of the DNC by police, their accessible portable toilet was confiscated, but they’re still speaking up when no one else will, for those in nursing homes that are not being heard. Pharaoh, LET MY PEOPLE GO!