“Fantastic” is my response when my co-workers ask me about the ADAPT Action I just returned from; but really I am still evaluating the overall impact. I cannot remember when ADAPT was in Washington DC when we have been so central to the current Congressional news issues.
Going into DC we knew our focus had to be the Medicaid Block Grants that are part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget. Our overall “Defending our Freedom” campaign was clearly defined by “No Medicaid Block Grants.” We cannot currently expect US states to comply with the 1999 Olmstead decision, there is no way that block grants would mean anything but an abandonment of Medicaid services, especially the optional waiver services and Home and Community Based services.
The result of ADAPT being in DC at this time was that we were often the object of Senator’s and Representative’s statements about the Ryan budget. They didn’t have to go far to show clearly that Medicaid recipients would be harmed by the block grants, we were in the hallway chanting that message.
Many Congress members came to visit and address ADAPT directly. My favorite was Sen. Rockefeller from West Virginia. He came during the press conference that he had called about opposing the block grants. He spoke to us in the hallway of the Capitol Visitor’s Center were he called the Ryan plan “heartless.” I was disappointed last Monday when my Representative, Jared Polis, got in late and did not stop by the huge protest in the Cannon Building.
The most moving visitor we had was Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. He cheered ADAPT on as activists were being arrested and hauled away by the police. He related his own civil-rights struggles to those of ADAPT and urged us to continue. Also speaking to the crowd in the Cannon Building Rotunda were: Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Donna Edwards (D-MD.), Karen Bass (D-CA.) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.).
If I had to find one thing that stood out I would have to choose the overall image of ADAPT speaking out against Medicaid cuts. Most often the general Medicaid impact is abstract, but ADAPT was able to put faces to the theoretical. Law and policy-makers talk about Medicaid but they rarely have to confront Medicaid recipients. We made sure that the suits could see and hear that block grants were in no way supported by the people closest to the program.
It really was an outstanding week.