Friday, September 26, 2014

Public Transportation Information Forum

Great public event gave MATA riders a forum to speak out about service problems

By Tim Wheat

MATA operator
The new MATA General Manager, Ron Garrison came to the Public Transportation Information Forum today at the Memphis Main Public Library. Citizens for Better Service Chairman Johnnie Mosley and Betty Anderson, Chair of the Memphis Transportation Advisory Committee facilitated the four hour forum.

“We will have better transportation in Memphis, a better M-A-T-A,” said Rep. Barbara Cooper the state representative for much of memphis. “Lets look at options to consider for our city that will change things for the unemployed and underemployed.”

Ron Garrison and Rep. Cooper sat on the panel discussion with the MATA Assistant General Manager, Tom Fox and Carlos McCloud of the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The panel covered funding and finance issues for Memphis public transportation. Tom Fox pointed out that MATA is a nonprofit and only 20% of the necessary operating funds comes from the farebox, most of the funding is public money.

The Forum panel
Following the panel discussion, Darryl Covington covered the new MATA Code of Conduct for riders of the Memphis public transit system. There were no surprises; you cannot do things that are illegal on the bus. The crowd however saw the inequity of the code and mentioned many things that bus operators did that were in conflict with the Code.

Many people told of long waits; some spent four hours on the bus. Others told about how hard it is to get MATA on the phone and when they did, there was poor customer service. Mr. Covington did recognise that MATA just does not answer the phone at many times and there is no communication with customers. Sometimes this lack of communication may cause unsafe conditions for MATA users. He did give a phone number that he felt may be more effective “after-hours” when MATA is still serving the public, but MATA agents and administration are absent. Mr. Covington said to call: 901-522-7129 for MATAplus issues. Riders were skeptical that this new phone number would be any different than the other MATA phone numbers.

At noon, Ms Niketa Reed dealt with the topic of customer service. She gave a Powerpoint presentation where she spoke about the ideals of good customer service, but did not relate those ideals to the practice and policy of MATA. I was interested that she understood the importance of “Follow-up” for good customer service and clearly recognized that MATA did not follow-up at all. Her only solution was that they are getting new software that will help them track complaints and reference callers issues. I remain hopeful like many in the audience but Betty Anderson pointed out that the major problem at MATA was attitude. I believe that the new software will do little to change the attitude of constructive change for the transportation system.

Front of the library.
During the customer service segment of the forum, we learned that MATA operators are in the habit of putting bricks on the ramps to keep an alarm from going off when the ramp is not completely stored. A rider at the meeting had run into a brick when she got on the bus on her way to the forum.

John Langcaster explained how MATA selected the various bus routes and MATA had an “Out of Service” bus for people to see and get in. A ten-year veteran bus operator came with the bus and answered questions as the public boarded the bus.

Photos from the Public Transportation Information Forum

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Not Dead Yet Chicago Protest

Disability Rights cannot be overlooked by the suicide group

By Tim Wheat
Diane Coleman at the protest
The disability rights group Not Dead Yet held a three-day protest against the World Federation of Right to Die Societies during the Federation’s biennial meeting being held in Chicago September 17 to 20. Many Americans see the right to die faction as an individual choice clique and fail to see the target of the various groups are people with disabilities.

”We are here to contradict the message of these groups that it’s better to be dead than disabled,” said Not Dead Yet president Diane Coleman of New York.

The meeting is being hosted by the Final Exit Network, an American group known for its use of “Exit Guides” to instruct and assist people with “irreversible physical illness, intractable pain, or a constellation of chronic, progressive physical disabilities” to kill themselves using “Exit Bags” filled with helium.

“This is a collection of reckless suicide fanatics,” said John Kelly of Second Thoughts Massachusetts, whose group was instrumental in defeating assisted suicide bills and a referendum in that state.

Without respect for people with disabilities and the needs and desires of our community, the World Federation is concentrating on public policy that will kill us, not provide choices. Direct action is important in this struggle so that people know that the focus is on killing people with disabilities, not simply providing choice.

Not Dead Yet activists block a door
“A busload of ADAPT activists just arrived last night (September 17) to join us after a week of protests for home care and freedom from nursing facilities,” said Diane Coleman, President and CEO of Not Dead Yet USA. “We’re also thrilled to have representatives of our sister organization in Canada join us for this three day protest vigil. It demonstrates that the disability rights opposition to legalized euthanasia is growing and is, increasingly, a worldwide phenomenon.”

The World Federation of Right to Die Societies was organized in 1980 to bring together the various groups in Europe and Anglophone countries which promote euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Federation last met in the United States in 2000, when it was also protested by Not Dead Yet in Boston.

“These are the people that we have seen in the news,” said Amy Hasbrouck from the Canadian group, Toujours Vivant/Not Dead Yet, which is working to defeat Canadian initiatives that will be promoted at the conference. “People who condoned the suicides of the Belgian twins who were losing their sight, or of the woman who was afraid she would not be able to see a stain on her shirt.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ADAPT In the Streets of Little Rock

ADAPT Marches proudly together in the street after warning of arrest from Little Rock Police

ADAPT marches in the streets of Little Rock
ADAPT marches toward the Arkansas State Capitol.
On Tuesday, September 16, the Little Rock Police Department actively notified specific organizations and locations that they might be subject to protest, urged them to lock their doors.  The Police Department also sought approval of building management/owners to permit the police to block disabled individuals from accessing their facilities.

More disturbing was the decision by the Victory Building Management, at the behest of the Little Rock Police, to prevent a handful of Arkansans with disabilities from going into the office of Senator Boozman to ask his support for two critical disability rights issues currently active in the US Senate.  

“I was appalled and embarrassed for my state,” said Brenda Stinebuck.  “We had not broken the law and had cooperated with the police, but were blocked from the Senator’s office anyway.”

ADAPT at Americans for Progress
Recognizing that the Little Rock Police are actively trying to prevent direct interaction with our group, ADAPT is publicly challenging the Arkansas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity and Goodwill Industries of Arkansas to meet directly with ADAPT rather than hide behind locked doors and police barricades.

ADAPT is seeking to meet with the leadership of Arkansas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity because the organization is distributing false information about the Community First Choice Option.  

“Once they actually understand the policy," said Mike Oxford of Kansas ADAPT, "we are hoping that they will stop advocating against Arkansas implementing the Community First Choice Option so the state can benefit from the new federal program created by ADAPT.”

ADAPT will also seek a meeting with the leadership of Goodwill Industries of Arkansas because the organization is affiliated with two national organizations that are fighting efforts to require that individuals with disabilities be paid at least the federal minimum wage.  

Crosby King at the Little Rock Goodwill
“We are the only group of people who can be legally paid less than minimum wage,” said Dawn Russell of Colorado ADAPT.  “Goodwill International and SourceAmerica are fighting our efforts to end that discriminatory law; that needs to stop!”  

ADAPT is hopeful about a productive meeting with Goodwill because the Arkansas organization does not, itself, pay less than minimum wage to disabled individuals. ADAPT intends to march in the street to these locations.

“Most people won’t understand this, but frankly it’s a safety issue,” said Josue Rodriguez of Tennessee ADAPT. “The police insisted – under the threat of immediate arrest – that we use the sidewalk, but the curb cuts and sidewalks are in such bad shape, people nearly tipped over.”  

“The City of Little Rock should take the money the police department is wasting by following us around in plain clothes, ticketing us and transporting our group and use it to fix the streets,” Jennifer McPhail of Texas ADAPT added,  Rodriguez and McPhail were arrested on Tuesday when they were instructed to move their wheelchairs to the sidewalk but couldn’t because there wasn’t an accessible route.
Brenda Stinebuck

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Twenty ADAPT activists arrested demanding access to elected officials.

ADAPT draws clear distinction in candidates

By Tim Wheat

Joey Tate is arrested in Little Rock

The Little Rock police seemed to change tactics today in an attempt to prevent ADAPT from arriving and interacting with elected officials. The prior restraint method however was unsuccessful as ADAPT was welcomed at the office of Mike Ross and made similar demands at the campaign office of Asa Hutchinson.

While the Mike Ross welcomed ADAPT activists and made a statement of support; more than fifteen activists were arrested outside the campaign office of Asa Hutchinson. Although the doors to Hutchinson’s headquarters were locked, the office is on the second floor and inaccessible.  Little Rock police were not able to restrain ADAPT activists from reaching the office and individuals removed paper hiding the sign to the Hutchinson campaign headquarters and delivered demands to the candidate.

“We believe that voters should know whether the Gubernatorial candidates will support the right of seniors and people with disabilities to live in the community,” said Brenda Stinebuck, an organizer for Arkansas ADAPT. “Or will continue state policies which force them into unwanted institutions and throw away our precious tax dollars.”

Josue Rodriguez of Memphis is arrested
About fifteen ADAPT activists were arrested when they failed to move from the entrance of the inaccessible building. Four ADAPT activists were arrested in the street on West Capitol Avenue on their way to candidate Mike Ross's office. ADAPT was prevented from marching in the streets, a public easement, and requested to use the sidewalks that are often inaccessible and impassible to people who use wheelchairs.

“This only illustrates ADAPT’s message here in Arkansas,” said Bruce Darling who was arrested today in the street headed to Mike Ross’ office. “Left out of the decision-making process, people with disabilities find doors slammed in our faces.”

Following the dual action at the Arkansas candidates for governor offices, ADAPT visited the current Arkansas Senator John Boozman’s office to ask him to support the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The Senator was not in, but his staff met outside with ADAPT and said they would relay the message to the Sen. Boozman.
ADAPT marches in the streets of Little Rock

Monday, September 15, 2014

ADAPT Activists Arrested at ACHA

39 hauled off chanting: “I’d rather go to jail than to die in a nursing home.

By Tim Wheat
German Perodi of Philly ADAPT arrested at ACHA
Thirty-nine ADAPT activists were arrested today at the American Health Care Association office in Downtown Little Rock when AHCA executives refused to talk about Community Integration and cost-saving alternatives to expensive nursing homes for Arkansas.

The action at the AHCA headquarters followed a successful visit to the Capitol office of Governor Mike Bebe. ADAPT activists filled the Governor's reception room and Brenda Stinebuck presented each demand to the governor surrounded by about seventy ADAPT activists. The governor told the group that he supported the Community First Choice Option.

"I am excited about what the governor said to us," stated Brenda Stinebuck, an ADAPT organizer from Arkansas. "For him to publicly say that he supports the Community First Choice Option makes me really happy."

Following the meeting with the Governor, ADAPT activists paused and had lunch on the Capitol steps. At 2:00 in the afternoon ADAPT made its way single-file one block to the office of the American Health Care Association, the lobby for the Nursing Home Industry. Nearly two-hundred people moved into the office quietly.

ADAPT fills the halls of the ACHA office
Once inside the activists asked to meet with the AHCA Executive Director to talk about Arkansas implementing cost-saving ideas and the Community First Choice Option. AHCA continued to refuse to simply talk about CFCO. Medicaid reform and reason are not on ACHA’s side as the nursing home lobby works to keep public funds flowing into the fifty year old program and opposing Medicaid cost-saving reforms.

ADAPT began to chant and clog-up the office demanding to meet with executives of the industry lobby. The Little Rock Police were called but ADAPT would not leave without meeting with AHCA. The Police and activists tried to get AHCA to talk, but the lobby will not budge. Eventually 39 ADAPT activists are arrested.

At one point a police officer was off in a side room with a handful of activists. He said that getting arrested would not solve anything. The officer said that he didn't understand our tactics and that he didn't feel that ADAPT would be effective. He said the buses were on their way and would simply take us all to jail.

Dorothy of Pennsylvania asked the officer: “Are those buses accessible?”

"Yes ma’am,” said the officer proudly. “Those buses will be fully accessible.”

“Well,” said Dorothy who was arrested for the first time, “we did that.”
Gov. Bebe speaks with Brenda Stinebuck
Gov. Bebe speaks with Brenda Stinebuck

Sunday, September 14, 2014

ADAPT Little Rock Action Opening Statement

Here in Little Rock, Arkansas, as ADAPT fights for the rights of people with disabilities to live in the community and be integrated into society, we can't help but remember the Little Rock Nine. ADAPT is grateful to the leadership of these young people and today we are in Little Rock following in their footsteps. To exemplify this connection, ADAPTers gathered around the memorial to remember their struggles and honor their courage.

At this memorial, Dr. Terrence J. Roberts is quoted on a plaque. It reads:

"My choice to join this group of nine was an act of bearing witness to the sacrifices of all those who have spilled their blood in the ongoing fight for equal rights in the country. My acceptance of the baton they passed along is my testimony to future generations who must finish the work started by the ancestors we share in common."

As members of the civil rights community, we recognize that the struggle for freedom and equality has not yet been won, and in solidarity, we honor those who continue the struggle today, including our brothers and sisters in Ferguson.

We also believe – like Dr. Roberts – that we have been passed the baton. The Supreme Court in its Olmstead Decision affirmed that people with disabilities have the right to live and receive services in the most integrated setting. Sadly across the country – and here in Arkansas – that isn’t the reality for many people with disabilities who either are forced into institutions or go without needed services and supports to lead an integrated life.

ADAPT is here in Little Rock to fight for those who have not been given the opportunity to fight for themselves. We will honor the Little Rock Nine and all of those who have struggled before us as we fight for freedom, equality, and justice. And we urge others to join the struggle and, in the words of Gloria Ray Karlmark, "Dare to object to prejudice and injustice."

The ADAPT Community
Boy stands beside Little Rock Nine sculpture

ADAPT leads Rally at the Arkansas Capitol

People with disabilities demand the Community First Choice Option

By Tim Wheat
ADAPT marches to the Arkansas state Capitol
At the ADAPT rally, people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities spoke of their frustration in seeking community services in Arkansas that will allow adults to live in their own homes and apartments and allow children to remain with their families.

"Currently there is a nine-year waiting list for people with disabilities to move out of an institution and into their own community and the Community First Choice Option can change that," said Brenda Stinebuck, an organizer with Arkansas ADAPT.  "Even though it makes fiscal and moral sense, CFCO has been under attack. Frankly, people are playing politics with our lives and our freedom; this has to stop!”

The ADAPT Rally was to show the support for Arkansas citizens with disabilities and the need for the state to take the Community First Choice Option. The Community First Choice Option is based on principles of federal legislation that was designed to end the institutional bias in Medicaid. There are currently 2,818 individuals on waiting lists for community services in Arkansas and over 18,000 people in Arkansas nursing facilities according to the CMS 2010 Third Quarter Report. In Arkansas 3,538 nursing facility residents indicated that they wanted to return to community living.

ADAPT leads the march to the Arkansas State Capitol
Arkansas officials have used very conservative assumptions to project the costs twelve years into the future and these projections show a net gain for the state’s budget, not a loss. Studies have demonstrated that states which rebalance their systems for providing long term services and supports will more effectively control these costs than those that rely on costly institutions.

When states cut Medicaid, they not only limit services but they cut the jobs of the people who are paid by the Medicaid funds to provide services, supports and basic healthcare to the state's citizens. The Community First Choice Option was developed by ADAPT and the disability community to create a financial incentive for states to rebalance their systems for providing long term services and supports toward the community and address the institutional bias in Medicaid.

activists gather on the steps of the Arkansas Capitol.Individuals with disabilities can wait for over nine years for services in Arkansas. Many will be forced into expensive segregated institutions. Disability rights advocates have effectively argued that the current, institutionally-biased system forces people into nursing facilities and other institutions, rather than letting the individual CHOOSE where and how they get their services.

ADAPT is in Little Rock to urge Arkansas to work with advocates and the disability community to implement real Medicaid reform that contains spending while it supports the independence and civil rights of people with disabilities. Institutions and Nursing homes have a preference built into the program; they have assured funding while alternatives to expensive facilities are optional federal Medicaid programs.
ADAPT rally at the Arkansas Capitol

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Why Little Rock?

National ADAPT focuses on Arkansas to demand all US states choose the Community First Choice Option

By Tim Wheat
ADAPT rally at the Arkansas state Capitol
National ADAPT felt it was important to make the point in Arkansas that people with disabilities demand for the Community First Choice Option is a bipartisan benefit to US states. Although it is part of the Affordable Care Act, it may be optioned independently and adds a six percent incentive to state Medicaid programs.

Failing to choose the Community First Choice Option not only keeps state residents isolated in expensive undesirable institutions, but it fails to take advantage of the cost-savings of home and community services in addition to the Medicaid enhanced rate. State funding for long term services and supports for seniors and people with physical disabilities is institutionally biased in Arkansas with 69.7% of Medicaid funding going to nursing facilities.

Mike Oxford
“That is pathetic,” said Mike Oxford, and organizer from Kansas. "Seniors and people with disabilities don't want to be forced into nursing facilities, but that's what the state is doing. This is not about spending more money, it is about reprioritizing so that funds that are currently spent on nursing facilities to fund services and supports that allow individuals to move out of these institutions or to avoid institutionalization altogether," Oxford said.

ADAPT supports Medicaid reform to make the system more efficient and effective and prevent US states, who administer the federal Medicaid program, from forcing people into institutions to balance the state budget. ADAPT holds that implementing real Medicaid reform, which restrains spending while promoting the independence and freedom of people with disabilities, is the most cost-effective use of state public money.

Janice Craven
ADAPT proposes expanding community-based services, expanding consumer-directed services, de-medicalizing services, eliminating wasteful bureaucracy and taking advantage of "re-balancing" funding. Advocates point out that estimates show the state of Arkansas would save money by making this change and implementing the Community First Choice Option. CFCO is a federal Medicaid program that gives seniors and people with disabilities a real alternative to institutional placement and provides extra federal funding to do it.

Home And Community - Based Services (HCBS) allow people with disabilities to remain in their own homes. HCBS programs often suffer because states cannot make cuts to institutional care, but they can cut the optional Medicaid services. This institutional bias in the federal Medicaid law keeps public funds flowing into expensive institutions although most people would prefer to remain at home.

Monday, September 8, 2014

MCIL asks Sen. Alexander to support the CRPD

The Memphis Center for Independent Living delivered a letter asking for Senator Lamar Alexander to support the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The letter was signed by about twenty-five people to show their support and the support of the disability community for International respect for the civil rights for people with disabilities.
Josue Rodriguez, Mary Wooldridge and Michelle Ivery with a letter to Sen. Alexander
Josue Rodriguez, Mary Wooldridge and Michelle Ivery
The CRPD is a symbol of US strength and leadership in the world and advances our shared ideal and national power. It is based on the world leading Americans with Disabilities Act that this country passed nearly twenty-five years ago and extends basic civil rights to people with disabilities.

“I’m glad we didn’t just email the Senator,” said Michelle Ivery, whose name is the top center of the letter, “I believe now he knows we care and will follow through. All those people who signed the letter know that it got to Senator Alexander.”
Michelle and Josue with the letter

MCIL provided this letter as one way that the community can show their support for the CRPD, also called the disability treaty. The treaty was signed by the US in 2009 and must be ratified by the US Senate. Senator Tom Harkin, who introduced the Americans with Disabilities Act in the Senate nearly twenty-five years ago, said that he will work to get the treaty to the Senate floor this session.

American businesses support ratification of the CRPD, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Business Leadership Network, and the Information Technology Industry Council. Many U.S. companies including IBM, AT&T, Adobe, and JP Morgan Chase support ratification.

Josue Rodriguez, Tim Wheat and Michelle Ivery took the letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office today. Mary Wooldridge, the Constituent Services Representative took the letter and posed for a photograph with those delivering the letter. Following delivering the letter, the MCIL group visited the coffee shop Qahwa to have brunch.
Memphis Center for Independent Living supporters who signed a letter for Sen. Alexander

Thursday, September 4, 2014

ADAPT And Arkansas:

An overview of some important ADAPT Actions from the 1990s

By Tim Wheat

Brenda Stinebuck of Arkansas ADAPT
Brenda Stinebuck of Arkansas ADAPT
When ADAPT rolls into Little Rock next week it is important to know that the natural state has seen and heard of ADAPT before. Although National ADAPT has never been to Arkansas, local and regional actions have set the stage for the upcoming ADAPT Action.

“When I was at Mainstream, ADAPT was active and closely linked to the center,” said Richard Petty, the former Executive Director at Mainstream the Center for Independent Living in Little Rock. “ADAPT was able to take actions not best taken by the Center and the Center provided organizational support to ADAPT. Mainstream organized several national trainings for Arkansas ADAPT members. Diane Coleman, Shell Trapp and other ADAPT trainers came to Arkansas with Mainstream’s support.”

At the end of 1991, Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas was preparing to run for US President. ADAPT reports in the INCITEMENT that the Presidential Candidate had made a statement that people have a civil right to live outside a nursing home.

But on December 12, 1991 the Arkansas Department of Human Services issued a memo that the state would limit personal care services to 50 hours per month and freeze other state programs that would keep people out of expensive institutions. Governor Clinton and the Arkansas Legislature were looking for ways to cut the state budget and looked to cut state programs that would save Arkansas money pushing people into costly federally funded institutions.

In this time before Olmstead, Money Follows the Person and the Community Choice Option, advocates had few tools to counter the cuts to the Arkansas Medicaid program. People with disabilities in Arkansas turned to the streets and adopted the ADAPT tactics that had been successful in making public transportation accessible. ADAPT Nationally and pivoted their focus to personal attendant programs and reforming Medicaid. ADAPT grassroots activists were asking for 25% of the current Medicaid funding for institutions to be diverted to provide attendant care to help people remain in their own homes and live and work in the community.

This was also before CASA, MiCASSA, the Community Choice Act and the Community Integration Act.

Sixteen activists occupied the private office of then Governor Bill Clinton on December 30, 1991. Arkansas ADAPT’s main demand was that the state stop the Medicaid cuts that were outlined in the Department of Human Services memeo. The group also asked for the state to develop a comprehensive long-range plan for home and community-based services and to apply for Medicaid personal assistance services waivers.

ADAPT marches in Harrisburg PA
ADAPT marches in Harrisburg PA
Arkansas ADAPT was led by Dr. Terry Winkler, who was the first wheelchair user to graduate from medical school at the University of Arkansas. He teamed up with activist Verlon McKay, a veteran and others in the disability rights community including Richard Petty of Mainstream and Bonnie Johnson the head of the Arkansas Disability Coalition. Others present included Glennis Sharp, Adrian Horton, Mattie Jones, and Janice Winkler.

“I was chained in the office with Winkler, McKay and fourteen other activists,” recalls Richard Petty. “We stayed there until the early hours of the morning of December 31. The action was ended with a conference call with Governor Clinton (who was out of State at the Renaissance event in South Carolina) and discussions with Acting Governor Jim Guy Tucker, who was present in the office with the chained ADAPT members. Diane Coleman and Bob Kafka coached the activists by phone throughout the action.”

Arkansas ADAPT had slipped into the governor’s office while admiring the state Christmas tree. They secretly wound a long bicycle chain on themselves and inside the office to emphasize the fact that they would not leave until their demands were met.

“The action resulted in a signed written agreement in which the State agreed to roll back Medicaid cuts that would have forced thousands into nursing homes,” said Richard Petty. “They agreed to develop a comprehensive long range plan for home and community-based services, and agreed to make application for Medicaid waivers for personal assistance services.”

Two years later, INCITEMENT points out that ADAPT was at the Arkansas Capitol to enforce that agreement made with Gov. Clinton.

Twenty years ago last month, ADAPT struck out at a regional target in Fort Smith Arkansas. ADAPT activists from Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas occupied the offices of Beverly Enterprises, the largest nursing home corporation in the nation at the time. Beverly owned or leased over 800 nursing homes and had profits of nearly $90 million.

Randy Alexander, a long-time ADAPT activist got fired-up about ADAPT tactics during the Beverly Enterprises action in 1994. He remembers meeting Bob and Stephanie but had to leave with his ride home before meeting many of the others from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. He says he had just spent two years in an institution in Hot Springs after an injury.

“I was stuck in that damn institution. I had to fight to get out of there,” said Randy from his farm in rural Mississippi. “When ADAPT came along it was like saying a big ‘fuck you’ to the nursing home industry and Beverly Enterprises. I was all in.”

ADAPT asked to speak with David Banks, the Chief Executive Officer of Beverly and demanded that ADAPT’s proposal to redirect 25% of Medicaid institutional funding to attendant care be discussed at the upcoming AHCA Convention. At the time the main target for National ADAPT was the massive, well-funded nursing home industry lobby: The American Health Care Association.

Banks got the meeting but the lobby reneged on their member’s agreement and actually sued ADAPT to try to prevent the demonstration in Clark County Nevada that year. David Banks agreed to survey accessibility at Beverly facilities and he wrote a letter supporting a national attendant services program.

“It is my commitment that Beverly Enterprises will support a national attendant services program so that people with disabilities, old and young, will have real alternatives to institutionalization,” wrote David Banks the CEO of Beverly Enterprises.

In September of 1997, Verlon McKay organized an ADAPT hit on President Clinton speaking at the 40th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine at Little Rock’s Central High School. He said it was hypocritical to celebrate inclusion when the school remains inaccessible to people with disabilities. The real irony was that for the Little Rock Nine to get into the school and to the podium where President Clinton spoke, they had to build ramps.

The ADAPT members shouted down the President, but were not removed from the accessible seating a long way from the front steps. President Clinton paused at one point in the speech and looked up from his written comments where he had just talked about the Little Rock Nine not being able to learn “ simple peace.”

“Speaking of simple peace,” directing his comments to the ADAPT Activists, “I'd like a little of it today.”

But ADAPT did not give the President any peace; Verlon and Arkansas ADAPT, supported by some Memphis ADAPT members continued to shout about the hypocrisy and rain on Clinton’s parade.

“I planned to be at the inaccessible Little Rock Central High School where Bill Clinton was going to talk about inclusion,” said Randy Alexander. “But traffic and police held me up and I never got there.”

Randy now lives a half-mile from a dilapidated care home at the Tubby Creek Farm he runs with Josephine. He jokes that the facility closed because he moved in. Randy may have started out with Arkansas ADAPT, but he has lived in Texas, Tennessee and now Mississippi. The farm takes all of his time but he still has a hope to join ADAPT for an action soon.

“My first action was against Greyhound in Hot Springs Arkansas. I didn’t get arrested,” said Randy, “but I got so excited that the other ADAPTers had to drag me off of the bus.”

Arkansas has been involved in much more and many things since the first ADAPT actions in the 1990s. National ADAPT members always must remember our roots and the struggles that our community faced years ago. For the natural state, this may be the first National ADAPT Action, but it is in the long tradition of people with disabilities speaking up, speaking out and taking to the streets to FREE OUR PEOPLE!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Medicaid Expansion is for working families

Local business is shouldering the cost of uninsured workers

By Tim Wheat

ADAPT at the US Capitol "My Medicaid Matters" Rally
Medicaid expansion will not only bring billions of dollars of health care into the state of Tennessee, it will also improve the health care coverage of working families. While traditional Medicaid covers critical health care needs for people below the federal poverty level, the expansion aims at providing health coverage to those Tennesseans above the poverty level.

While Medicaid is intended to provide some health care for those who have fewest resources and the lowest income, the Tennessee Governor is not refusing federal funding of the current program. Governor Haslam has refused to expand Medicaid to citizens who make too much to qualify for the traditional program and have an income is above the federal poverty level.

“It is so important for people and policymakers to understand that the people harmed by the coverage gap are working people,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. “They are not people who are looking for handouts, or welfare recipients.”

Text graphic: The governor has ignored cost-saving solutions
The US Department of Health and Human Services states that Medicaid Expansion would cover a family of four with an annual income less than $33,000 and a single adult income below $16,105. Families USA reported that 34,000 food service workers and 31,000 construction employees would be the leading employment sectors impacted by the Medicaid Expansion. The report also finds 112,000 Tennesseans working in Sales, Transportation, Maintenance, Office and Production that would benefit from the Medicaid Expansion.

The expansion to these employers means healthier workers and less work time lost without an investment in employer-paid insurance. It is not only state’s poor that are losing out on Medicaid Expansion, it is the business community that must shoulder the cost of uninsured workers. This cost is in addition to the $2.6 Million-a-day that taxpayers are losing out on by Governor Haslam’s procrastination on the Medicaid Expansion.