Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Disability activists rally for Community Choice Act


In Washington, DC, ADAPT's National Kickoff for the Community Choice Act (CCA) held a rally March 24 with a call to "Pass CCA Now."

With thousands of advocates in DC and at more than 120 conference call-in sites across the country, Community Choice Act co-sponsors Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman Danny Davis made crystal clear their commitment to passing the Community Choice Act in the 111th Congress.

The event was an upbeat event at times filled with thunderous applause and the chanting of "Pass CCA Now!"

Sen. Tom Harkin led off this important event on Capitol Hill and declared that CCA will pass in this Congress and be on the President's desk either as a part of the healthcare reform bill or on its own.

He noted that it has been 10 years since the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision which affirmed the Constitutional rights of people with disabilities to live in the least restrictive environment and he told the critics who say CCA will cost too much that by allowing individuals with disabilities to live and work in their own homes and communities rather than institutions, the costs will be offset by new taxpayers.

Senator Harkin declared: "We can't afford not to do this!"

ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR) are longtime supporters of CCA, formally known as MiCASSA, the legislation that gives people real choice in long term care options. This legislation ends the institutional bias in the Medicaid program by giving individuals who are eligible for nursing facility services or other institutional "care" equal access to community-based services and supports, like attendant services.

The event was moderated by Kansas ADAPT member, Mike Oxford and the other
speakers included Dawn Russell, ADAPT, Andy Imparato, American Association
of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD), Marty Ford, Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), John Lancaster, National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), Victor Robinson, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), and Mitch LaPlante, University of California, San Francisco.

Congressman Danny Davis received huge applause when, after promising to do everything in his power in the House this session, he quoted the lyrics to a Sam
Cooke song: "I was born by the river in a little tent. And just like that river I've been running ever since. It's been a long time coming. But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will."

With a progressive president in the White House, powerful co-sponsors in a more receptive Congress and more than 700 disability organizations signed-on in support of the Community Choice Act, the chant of "Pass CCA Now!" at the conclusion of this rally had an empowered and celebratory tone rather than a pleading one.

All of the speakers, however, acknowledged that there is hard work ahead for all as the community works to attract Congressional sponsors to the bill, educate the media and mobilize public support for CCA.