Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ADAPT protests at hospital executives meeting in DC

From Politico. Pictured is the ADAPT protesters from its Action Report website.

Hospital executives, gathered in Washington for the American Hospital Association’s annual meeting, looked bewildered at an unexpected sight outside this morning’s session: approximately 200 wheelchair-bound activists, waving “stop the nursing homes!” signs and chanting “Who do we want? Pelosi! When do we want her? Now!”

The protest, organized by disability-rights group Adapt, was meant to draw attention to the Community Choice Act of 2009, a bill languishing in committee that would put long-term, home-based care on equal footing with nursing home care within Social Security programs. The bill has 123 co-sponsors in the House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who spoke to the AHA meeting this morning, is not among them.

The protest, however, seemed ill-timed after the passage of health care reform, which specifically put resources behind long-term home care. Section 2401 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act instructs states to “make available home and community-based attendant services and supports to eligible individuals.”

Home-care activists are skeptical of whether that’s enough. They say entrenched funding policies will still favor nursing home care over in-home services. A Kaiser Family Foundation report bolsters their claim; the non-partisan health care think tank noted, in 2006, that the “various disincentives that arise from Medicaid long-term care policies and limited community-based care options” are obstacles to long term care outside of nursing homes.

Most hospital executives, after their initial shock, paid little notice to the protest, shuffling into a day of meetings and speeches with politicians and health care experts. AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock described it as "a little democracy in action," apologizing for the slight delay they caused to the morning's session, which featured Speaker Pelosi alongside HHS Secretary Katherine Sebelius and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.)