ADAPT Press Release: Monday’s Protest at the White House

For Immediate Release: April 27, 2009

For information contact:
Bruce Darling 585-370-6690
Marsha Katz (406) 544-9504

91 Arrested When ADAPT Told Obama Administration Won’t Support Inclusion of Long Term Services in Health Care Reform

Washington, D.C.— Ten members of ADAPT met with Obama Administration officials in the White House today, and came away disappointed at the lack of commitment from the administration on inclusion of long term services and supports in health care reform. The administration stated that its only commitment currently is to extend insurance to the people who are uninsured, and that the people in nursing homes and institutions would need to continue to wait until an unspecified time in the future when it is proven that the health care reform worked. Angered by that response, 500 ADAPT members immediately stretched out along the White House fence, using handcuffs and chains to secure themselves. The Capitol Police ultimately arrested 91 people.

“This is unequivocally a civil rights issue, and we thought we had a civil rights president,” said Bruce Darling, ADAPT Organizer from Rochester, New York. “He took the oath of office on the Lincoln bible, and has spoken repeatedly about inclusion and integration. But after today, it seems clear that inclusion doesn’t apply to us…to the thousands of people trapped for years behind institution and nursing home walls and those of us who are aging with nursing homes looming in our futures. Instead of the promised “change” we are just getting more of the same old thing.”

Obama officials in the one hour meeting with ADAPT included Nancy-Ann De Parle, Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform, aka the President’s Health Care Czar; Jeff Crowley, Director of Office of National AIDS Policy and an advisor on the administration’s development of disability policies; Henry Claypool, Director of the Office of Disability in Health and Human Services (HHS); and Mike Hash, coordinator of the HHS-White House reform efforts.

“My heart is broken,” said Dawn Russell, ADAPT organizer in Denver, Colorado. “Throughout the Presidential campaign, ADAPT worked hard to educate the Obama campaign. We came to believe in the Obama promise of “change,” and we really believed that President Obama was the person who really would “free our people” from being imprisoned in nursing homes and other institutions. Untold numbers of people have died or been abused waiting for their freedom, and we just got told we aren’t important enough and so we have to keep waiting.”

ADAPT will be making visits to Congress during the week, seeking more co-sponsors for the Community Choice Act, legislation which would give older and disabled Americans the choice to live in their own homes and communities with the services and supports they need. Current Medicaid policy forces people into nursing homes and other institutions in order to get the assistance they need, despite the fact that both the aging and disabled communities have consistently indicated they prefer home and community based services to the generally higher cost institutional services that rob them of control of their lives.

“The President can give millions more people health insurance, but if health care reform doesn’t include long term services and supports, then all the health care in the world won’t keep those people from being forced into nursing homes against their will,” said Linda Anthony, ADAPT Organizer from Pennsylvania.

ADAPT activists protest at the White House gates.  Picture by photographer Tom Olin
ADAPT activists protest at the White House gates. Picture by photographer Tom Olin