DEFENDING OUR FREEDOM: ADAPT's

Call to Action for Home and Community in
America.  (2/2010)

We The People hold our government accountable for enforcing our rights.

As the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities
Act draws near, the disability community is not busy celebrating because
we are literally in a fight for our lives and our most basic freedoms.

Eleven years ago, in the Olmstead decision, the Supreme Court said that
Americans with disabilities have the right to live in the most integrated
setting.  Yet today, states are responding to budget shortfalls by
drastically cutting home and community-based services.  These draconian
cuts are forcing seniors and people with disabilities into nursing
facilities and other institutional settings because they don't have the
services they need in the community to remain independent.

As states cut vital services, the federal government, which is charged
with protecting our civil rights and enforcing the law, is simply standing
by - silent - while Americans with disabilities have their most basic
freedoms taken away by the states.

The disability community cannot sit by as our freedom is negotiated away
in back room budget deals.  We must take action!

DEFENDING OUR FREEDOM is a three-prong national campaign initiated by
ADAPT to organize the disability community to:

*        Demand that the Obama administration fulfill its duty to
  aggressively protect the civil rights of disabled Americans and enforce
  the Americans with Disabilities Act/Olmstead decision;

*        File complaints with the Health and Human Services Office for
  Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice that document the
  violation of rights of individuals who have been forced into
  institutional settings, denied community services, or have had their
  community services reduced as well as complaints that document the state
  policies and budget cuts that violate our rights; and

*        Document the disability community's efforts to fight back against
  state cuts so that we can learn from each other's efforts, rally others
  to join our fight, and hold public officials accountable when they do
  not support our freedom.
           

I. DEFENDING OUR FREEDOM: Demanding action by the Obama administration

The federal government is responsible for enforcing federal law and
assuring that states comply with the Americans with Disabilities
Act/Olmstead decision.  ADAPT is demanding that the federal government
affirmatively and aggressively enforce the Olmstead decision.  To do this,
the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and the U.S.
Department of Justice, must:


1.      Accept, investigate and resolve individual and systemic complaints
   which document state policies and budget cuts that threaten the freedom
   of Americans with disabilities;

2.      Develop specific benchmarks/criteria for assessing state
   compliance, and holding them accountable. with the Olmstead decision,
   assess the states and publicly release this assessment on an annual
   basis;

3.      Conduct regular, on-going compliance reviews of states for
   compliance with the Olmstead decision;

4.      Develop "most integrated setting" criteria for determining when
   DOJ will step in and affirmatively enforce the Olmstead decision
   whether or not there has been a complaint filed ;

5.      With CMS, review state submissions for modifying their Medicaid
   State Plan and HCBS waiver services for the impact that these changes
   will have on the state's ability to comply with the Olmstead decision
   so that those changes which limit the freedom of Americans with
   disabilities are not approved by CMS;

6.      With CMS, modify Section Q of the Minimum Data Set so that people
   who indicate they want to return to community living are actively
   assisted to do so;

7.      Publicly report on the progress that has been made so that these
   results can be discussed in a potential meeting between Georgina
   Verdugo, the HHS/OCR Director, and ADAPT representatives.

ACTION TO TAKE: ADAPT is urging organizations across the country to sign
on in support of these demands.  If your organization would like to
support this campaign, email DOF.signon@gmail.com

II. DEFENDING OUR FREEDOM: Filing complaints to protect our freedom

The Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and Department of
Justice are charged with protecting the civil rights of Americans with
disabilities who want to live in the most integrated setting.
Although
they are able to affirmatively enforce the law without specific
complaints, these agencies typically take action only when complaints are
filed.  We need to file complaints that document the violation of rights
of individuals who have been forced into institutional settings, denied
community services, or have had their community services reduced.  We must
also file complaints that document the state policies and budget cuts that
steal the freedom to we are entitled under the Olmstead decision.

ACTION TO TAKE: ADAPT has prepared a form you can download and fax to us
toll free at 1-888-324-0787.  We will forward your complaint to the Health
and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, the appropriate HHS/OCR
Regional office, and the Department of Justice.  If you choose to file
your complaint yourself, please notify us at DOF.complaint@gmail.com that
you have filed a complaint and, if possible, send ADAPT a copy.

III. DEFENDING OUR FREEDOM: Fighting back and sharing our stories

Even though there are different battles in individual states, we are
fighting the same fight.  To strengthen these efforts across the country,
our campaign will collect personal and state stories about the effects of
budget cuts and the efforts to fight back against them.  ADAPT has created
a website (www.defendingourfreedom2010.blogspot.com where we can post
information and pictures of your advocacy.  This will create a public
record of the disability community's efforts to stop cuts and hopefully
inspire others across the country to speak up and speak out, too. State
advocates can also submit individual calls to action so that we can
support each other's efforts.

ACTION TO TAKE: Send submissions to defendingourfreedom@gmail.com .  And
remember to keep up on what groups are doing by reading the blog:
www.defendingourfreedom2010.blogspot.com .
   
Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues

Back issues of other Information Bulletins are available online at
http://www.stevegoldada.com
with a searchable Archive at this site divided into different subjects. 
To contact Steve Gold directly, write to stevegoldada@cs.com
or call 215-627-7100.

--
Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues

Back issues of other Information Bulletins are available online at
http://www.stevegoldada.com