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ADAPT Outrage Over Obama Healthcare Reform Exclusion

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-07-11 (Revised/Updated 2010-04-15) - ADAPT outrage over the Obama Administrations Exclusion of People with Disabilities in relation to Health Care Reform - Disabled World.

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The AAPD's Justice For All Blog has presented an article related to President Obama's apparent betrayal of the Disability Community where health care reform is concerned.

The Obama Administration has supported the CLASS Act, yet has neglected to support the Community Choice Act (CCA), according to the article. ADAPT, the nation's largest grassroots disability rights organization, has expressed a great deal of outrage because of this.

The Obama Administration has endorsed a piece of long -term legislation related to health care while refusing to support a companion measure that is aimed at elimination of institutional bias in Medicaid for aging and disabled persons of lower income; one that Mr. Obama had previously co-sponsored when he was a senator. July 6th, 2009, found Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, sending a letter to Senator Ed Kennedy expressing Mr. Obama's support for the CLASS Act, which would allow middle class Americans to put aside money for long-term services as they either age or become disabled. After paying into the fund for five years these workers or their spouses would be able to draw funds for long-term services and assistance in the community or a nursing home. These workers could opt out of the program as well.

Bob Kafka, Texas ADAPT Organizer, is quoted as saying, "Those of us with disabilities, who are aging, and who aren't able to work are outraged that the President has issued public support for this primarily middle class legislation, and has completely ignored the companion legislation that would include lower income disabled and older people in reform of long term services and supports, and health care reform, it's like we don't exist!"

Dawn Russell, and ADAPT Organizer from Denver, Colorado, stated: "When President Obama was a senator, he co-sponsored CCA, and when he campaigned for the Presidency, he pledged to support CCA. But since he was elected, and we met with his people at the White House, they told us that he will not include long term services and supports in health care reform. When we heard that, we expressed our disappointment and anger in a peaceful protest outside the White House. The President responded by having us arrested, and there were very heavy fines levied against us. It feels like the President is trying to intimidate and silence us so we won't speak up for people with disabilities, people with low incomes, and those who are aging who are at risk of being forced into nursing homes under the current law."

Research has shown that community-based assistance is almost always less expensive, yet the Obama Administration has taken the exact opposite stance. What frightens me, as a person with disabilities, is the perspectives being taken by the Obama Administration related to health care as a whole. President Obama and this Administration have stated that they feel certain kinds of health care are unnecessary, such as care related to end of life, or other forms of health care for people with chronic conditions. My fear is that people with disabilities fall into this category in Mr. Obama's mind; have we become, 'people unworthy of health care'

The CLASS Act does not address the Medicaid, 'Institutional Bias.' Persons who use up the benefits they save under the act will still face having to move into a nursing home or other form of long-term care facility in order to keep receiving assistance - unless they can afford to stay in their homes because they have other resources. When those resources are used up, what will they do then? Bruce Darling, an ADAPT Organizer from New York, put things very well indeed with this statement:

"When I voted last November, I was sure I was voting for a great man who would bring freedom to people with disabilities. Just as President Lincoln freed the slaves, I felt that President Obama would free those of us with disabilities from the continued threat of incarceration in a nursing homes and institutions. Now, I feel like a fool, because this administration apparently cares nothing for us and has no respect for our freedom and our civil rights."

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