When state legislatures competed with one another to cut taxes and thus lure wealthy families and corporations to their states, they cut their own throats too. Now states discover "budget shortfalls" in the flat-lining Republican economy, and poor people's programs like Medicaid get the ax.
ADAPT of Pennsylvania, long divided, united again in mid-April, just in time to face off with the Secretary of Health and Welfare. They stopped her plan to cut back in-home services. In May, Kansas ADAPT (see story at left) camped out to restore disability budget cuts.
Long divided by the funding streams that irrigate our work, only a few states can claim to have active cross-disability coalitions. California pulled one togethersee next story and scored big for all of us.
ADAPT activists came from around the state to create a Tent City on the statehouse lawn. The city had everything you'd expect in a small town a porta-potty sewage system, a mayor, a daily paper, a museum, a restaurant (the Roadkill Cafe), an active tornado warning siren, and even a cemetery where Budget Fairness was interred.
Tent City would be there still had its citizens not won, on
the sixth day, restoration of millions of dollars to home- and community-based
programs. Also won: new language in budget bills. From now on, "the money
follows the person" when that person leaves a nursing home. Not all was
won, however. Many on waiting lists for Medicaid waiver services must still
PHOTOS BY TOM OLIN
Working together, California's disability groups persuaded state officials to lean hard on the state Medical Board. That Board had won a spot on the U.S. Supreme Court docket for its appeal of the Hason case, a case which would have given the conservative Supremes another opportunity to carve up our ADA. The California coalition rallied, marched and met behind the scenes until a number of state officials, and Gov. Gray Davis, asked the Board to withdraw it. Davis's letter to the Board called the ADA, "a cornerstone of our nation's civil rights protections." He got that right.
HolLynn D'Lil, one of the coalition organizers, sent us a photo of the governor's men nervously surrounding the group and its American flagsecured to a white cane with leg bag straps. "This is the kind of action that really counts," she said, "mau-mauing."
Last Mouth we reported that Minnesota's plan to cancel Independent Living met with silence from advocates. Not so. Our apologies to all the advocates who worked and won back what had been lost. Special apologies to Randy Sorenson and fellow organizers at Options CIL in Grand Forks. They were first to bring that error to our attention.
NOTE TO ALL: WE CAN'T KNOW YOUR NEWS UNLESS YOU TELL US.
Carrying signs asking Where's YOUR Mother? and a banner that showed and told the stories of hundreds of disabled Americans stranded in "care" facilities, ADAPT converged on the White House on Mother's Day to demand an apology for lives stolen by the institutional bias of our country's long-term care services. More than one hundred activists were arrested for chaining themselves to the White House gates in protest.
The ADAPT bill to change state and federal priorities, MiCassa, Senate Bill 971, was reintroduced by Senators Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter and is under review by the Senate Finance Committee. MiCassa mandates state Medicaid plan coverage of community-based attendant services and supports for people who need them and are Medicaid-eligible. In the House of Representatives, the identical bill is HR 2032 and has 51 co-sponsors.
With more than one million citizens stranded in state-funded "care" facilities in the U.S., federal and state legislators still balk at funding the less-costly alternative: in-home services. Two cracks worth noting appeared recently in the wall between us and freedom.
· Citing the Olmstead decision, the U.S. Department of Justice called the city of San Francisco guilty of violating people's civil rights by stranding them in its Laguna Honda institution. The DOJ moved in after a class action suit and united agitation from DREDF, Protection & Advocacy of Oakland, the AARP, and others.
· Reports are in and all positive from
the Cash and Counseling program being tested in five states. That program bypasses
government agencies and gives funds directly to people
who then pay for their own assistance services.
CARTOON BY MICHAEL DATER FROM THE NEW HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE
Psychiatry's survivors aren't the only ones who find Sally Satel, the Bush Administration's pet shrink, scary. Ellen Barry, reporter for The Boston Globe, caught Satel's attack on the consumer-survivor movement at last year's meeting of the American Psychiatric Association and pronounced her "reminiscent of Nurse Ratched." The mad movement came out in force to picket this year's APA conference and protest Satel's agenda of forced drugging, an activity she calls "the final solution to the mental health crisis."
San Francisco became Shrink City as — count 'em — nineteen thousand psychiatrists attended.
"Now more than ever," says David Oaks, Director of
MindFreedom.org, "with psychiatry targeting the
general population every night in TV ads, with millions of children on Ritalin,
the Mad Movement wants to break through."
PHOTOS: AT LEFT, MASKS OF SALLY SATEL AND OUR COMMANDER
IN CHIEF. AT RIGHT, LADY LIBERTY MARCHES WITH PROTESTERS. BOTH IN SAN
FRANCISCO IN MAY. PHOTOS BY CAL GRANDY.
One mad counter-conference speaker, dissident shrink Dr. Loren Mosher, cited America's $23 billion annual spending for psych drugs, with antidepressants gaining 800 percent in use between 1990 and 2000, and antipsychotics 600 percent. Must be a mental health crisis going on.
One psych survivor noted the lack of "consumer" participation in Bush's Freedom Commission on Mental Health, saying, "It still is people making decisions about us, for us, without us... Maybe it is a beginning, that we had one seat..."
When the Senate confirmed Jeffrey Sutton to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, it was just one more slap in the face for the disability community. Can you imagine it confirming a judge with a long history of opposing the civil rights of Blacks or women? Well, they've done it to us with Sutton. In spite of our best efforts, he's now one seat away from the Supreme Court.
Deborah Cook, another right-wing judge who ruled that medical schools could refuse blind applicants, is also up for the federal bench.
Now the House of Representatives has amended IDEA, allowing schools to expel students with emotional disabilities if they have emotional outbursts. And old Clint Eastwood is back with the ADA Notification Act.
It's up to us to return to the streets where we won our civil rights in the first place. Now is the time to win them back. Don't mourn — organize!
JIM WARD OF ADA WATCH SPEAKS OUT AGAINST SUTTON AT A PRE-HEARING RALLY ON CAPITOL
HILL. THAT'S JUSTIN'S HAT ON THE PODIUM. PHOTO BY P. SUE KULLEN.
Apparently the APA isn't the only group that can name a new diagnosis and provide the treatment. In April, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson determined that chronic homelessness was a medical rather than a poverty problem. He said that nearly one quarter of a million Americans are "afflicted" with it.
Treatment for this new disorder will not include provision of affordable housing. Medicaid-funded behavioral health care is the Rx.
The National Council on Disability noticed recently that in thirty years no one has enforced Section 504 of the Rehab Act.
As we told the world in 1998, the man in charge of 504's enforcement, John Wodatch, is the same man whose job it was to prevent its regulations being written in the first place. He also chairs the interagency committee Congress appointed to ensure federal compliance with 504. That committee has never met.
In fights to keep a community mental health center out of downtown Oroville,
Calif., one business owner characterized its beneficiaries as "human trash."
Sacramento Protection & Advocacy has filed suit.
See what happens? First they screw up, then they build a bureaucracy around correcting the error. Then they screw up again, and build a new one around that.
The Transportation Security Administration, a post-9/11 bureaucracy, has a new program, the TSA Screening of Persons with Disabilities Program. Its manager announced this spooky improvement: "Passengers using wheelchairs who can't walk through metal detectors will be offered a private area where a screener can search them by hand."
Trouble is, they didn't get Apodaca's permission to put his name on that post office. "Nobody even asked me," he complained to one reporter.
ILLUSTRATION CLIPPED BY D. ANTHONY FROM THE DENVER POST
On May 29, Gordon Hogg, Minister of Child and Family Development in British Columbia, offered "this government's sincere apologies to former residents and their families who suffered harm as a result of time spent in institutional care."
B.C. has closed its institutions.
What makes all this talk so peculiar is that no one has questioned why J.D.S. is not consulted about her future. Abandoned to a nursing home when she was three years old, she moved to a group home at age 18. She is deaf, has C.P., is said to be "retarded," "has no family," and "can't speak." But wait. Has anyone tried teaching her to sign? That question never comes up in news reports. What does come up, unquestioned, is that whether she gets an abortion or gives birth, she will be sterilized.
Gov. Bush says "her severe incapacitation makes it impossible for her to make decisions about her own well-being."
Just a minute now. He also told reporters that no court has found her incompetent or appointed a guardian. Legally, then, she is a free American adult. At this point, J.D.S. could walk out of the headlines and, if she suddenly turned lucky, into a life where she has some say in things. Nobody's talking about that, or saying she deserves an opportunity.
LOCK UP THE T.P.There was a big flurry in the Hawaiian press about that state's Arc. Apparently its search for fiscal stability reached all the way into its group home johns.
According to a Medicaid inspection report, toilet paper, towels, and Kleenex were kept under lock and key. That report also called its facilities "dirty" and made what the newspapers called "allegations" of abuse and neglect. (Here we'd thought that locking up the toilet paper was, ipso facto, abuse.)
What's unusual about all this is that for once low-level employees didn't take the blame. Under pressure from his board, the executive director himself resigned. We call that progress. Now who's going to fire the board?
According to Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, "Cloning raises the enduring
question: What is a human being... and how can we make money off it?"
A BIG BROWN BAGFUL of more news
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