Disability Rights Activists Take
Action to Preserve Medicaid & Attendant Care
Cuts Reflect National Issues
Brutality, 83 Arrests in Struggle to Save Medicaid in the Keystone State
by Sharon Wachsler, October 16, 2012
As we posted Monday on our blog, disability rights activists
from around the country have converged on Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania to convince lawmakers to change course on the
devastating cuts to Medicaid that are harming people with disabilities.
The protests and efforts to affect change started on Sunday and
continue through Thursday (October 18). Today's activism saw 83 arrests
and \police brutality that was captured on video (see below).
Yesterday, Governor Corbett refused to meet with ADAPT, though
activists attempted to make headway with other key lawmakers, including
Senator Jack Corman and Representative William Adolph, but nothing that
led to concrete action or meaningful meetings.
According to Philadelphia independent living center, Liberty
Resources, over 300 protesters are involved in the ongoing action.
ADAPT's website describes what's at stake as a national
Pennsylvania was in the process of "rebalancing" its system to more
effectively support seniors and people with disabilities living in the
community rather than relying on institutional placement. The state had
also become a national leader in allowing people with disabilities to
manage their own assistance and utilizing Centers for Independent
Living in the provision of home and community based services. The
Corbett administration has destroyed much of this progress by cutting
funding for Pennsylvania's Medicaid home and community based services
and implementing sweeping changes to the state's infrastructure for
providing home and community based long term services and supports. ...
ADAPT believes the choice should be clear because the US Supreme Court
has determined, in the Olmstead decision, that under the Americans with
Disabilities Act people with disabilities have a fundamental civil
right to receive community based services and supports from Medicaid as
an alternative to being forced into a nursing facility or institution.
Furthermore, there is federal funding to make these important changes.
At about 5:45 PM today, police became violent with protesters inside
the Dept. of Public Welfare offices in the PA state capitol. ADAPT
members posted this video on youtube: Harrisburg Police
Assault ADAPT Protesters at DPW]
Video description: Harrisburg Police Assault ADAPT Members at the
Department of Public Welfare building on October 16, 2012. A
four-minute video of many people, most in wheelchairs, at least one
blind man standing up, and many male police officers in an enclosed
indoor space. There are glass doors that the police seem to be trying
to close or pull people through. You can see an unidentified woman get
pulled by her pony-tail over a wheelchair and onto the floor, and there
is screaming, and then police remove the hat of Joey Tate and also pull
him in through the doors by his hair as ADAPT members shout over and
over "Nonviolent!" and "No violence!"
The press has slowly been picking up the story, including written and
video pieces last night by CBS affiliate WHPTV CBS21
News and today by PennLive.com.
What You Can Do to Help
Options for Those in PA and Elsewhere to Make a Difference
For those out of state and CAN'T get there in person, here are the most
useful actions you can take to make a difference:
Follow National ADAPT and PA
ADAPT on their web pages, Facebook,
and Twitter. Share their tweets, status updates, pictures,
and videos! Ask others to get involved and spread the word, make phone
calls (see below), and lend support in person, if possible. (PA
ADAPT on FB and PA ADAPT on Twitter.)
If you can make telephone calls, call
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and tell him to work with
Pennsylvania ADAPT to implement Community First Choice. Call him at
717-787-2500 (voice). You can also call Dept. of Welfare Secretary Gary
Alexander at 717-787-2600 and tell him to meet with ADAPT.
If you can't call, email Secretary
Alexander and Governor Corbett.
Pam Auer of Central Pennsylvania ADAPT urges,
"Try to do the same thing in your state. Encourage people to support
CFC [the Community First Choice option] -- in Pennsylvania and every
state across the nation. This will mean more funding and flexibility in
Savannah Nicole Logsdon-Breakstone, a member
of Occupy Pittsburgh and a supporter of PA ADAPT who is not
normally able to get transportation to ADAPT events suggests some
creative ways of bringing attention to the issue: "Share the messages
that National ADAPT have been tweeting/sharing. If you can call, call
the numbers they list. Take photos holding signs of solidarity, and
make videos about why Medicaid is important -- why it matters in your
life. When you share photos/videos, tag National
ADAPT and PA ADAPT and write what state you are posting
If you CAN make it to Harrisburg tomorrow (October 17) or Thursday
(October 18), that is very helpful!
You do not have to have experience as an ADAPT protester! Everyone is
welcome to help! Here are some ways to be useful:
Show up! Especially if you can come before or during
the rally tomorrow. MY MEDICAID MATTERS Rally, scheduled for October
17th, 2012 , Capitol Building, Fountain Entrance, 1:00 pm, rain or
shine. If there is inclement weather, we will be meeting inside at the
Main Rotunda at 1:00 pm.
Auer says, "For the next two days, being there,
being another voice, a body" matters.
"If you're near the train/bus station
(Amtrak/Greyhound), directing people how to get to the Capitol is very
helpful. Direct them to the Fountain side (the Commonwealth side)
because there will be a rally at the fountain." (See below.)
The weather has been cold and the days have been
long. If you can bring warm gear (blankets, sleeping bags, etc.), hot
food and drinks, that will also be helpful. As always, brings signs,
bring your stories, your passion. Be ready to listen to instructions
from ADAPT leaders. Bring your phone, camera, video cam to document
what happens and to spread the word.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has already dropped tens of
thousands of children from state Medicaid and cut attendant hours
of adults on the PCA program, which will mean disabled citizens ending
up in institutions instead of staying at home. Logsdon-Breakstone
says, "I'll be there tomorrow and bring the board of Self
Advocates United as 1 (SAU1)."
"My Medicaid Matters" Rally Thursday, Oct. 17, Capitol Building,
Fountain Entrance, 1:00 PM rain or shine. (If bad weather, meet inside
Main Rotunda). For more info, see PA ADAPT Facebook page.
Please spread the word and get there if you can!
Why should you come to Harrisburg? This legislative session may
fundamentally change “Medicaid As We Know It” in ways that we won’t
like unless we tell them what we want in any reforms they propose.
NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US! We are beginning to see people
returning to institutions. We continue to watch the dismantling of one
of the country’s best attendant care waivers and the destruction of
small, effective community providers. Community Mental Health services
are disappearing, and the future of these services are in jeopardy,
becoming almost non-existent. When Medicaid is reformed, we better
be at that table.
ADAPT spells out ten demands. Governor Corbetts administration must
develop an Olmstead plan which does the following (further details on
each item are on the ADAPT website):
Engages ADAPT, the state's extensive network of
Centers for Independent Living, other disability-led advocacy
organizations and legal advocates in the development and monitoring of
the plan and its individual components
Shifts Medicaid funding for long term services and
supports so that at least fifty percent of those funds support home and
community-based services by 2015
Selects and implements the Community First Choice
Establishes specific benchmarks and regularly
provides public reporting on the state's progress in achieving these
Assures that people with the most significant
disabilities receive the services and supports they need to lead an
independent and integrated life in the community
Changes state rules to allow attendants to perform
health maintenance tasks for people who need them as a long term
service or support so that individuals who need this assistance can
live independently in the community
Leverages the state's network of Centers for
Independent Living and other non-profit disability-led providers
committed to the independence and integration of people with
Establishes Medicaid rates that support a living
wage for attendants and sustains the community-based organizations that
assist people in living independently
Restores the funding systems that local counties use
to support mental health and developmental disability programs
Establishes leadership within the state who truly
supports home and community based services as an alternative to
What else can you do to help? Share this article! And comment at the
Ability Maine blog and on Twitter about why #MyMedicaidMatters to you!