A D A P T Home MiCASSA ADAPT Action Report Free Our People March MCIL GRAPHIC: a drawing of a bicycle
TEXT: ADAPT Action Report 2001 Washington DC May 12 - 17; superimposed over police standing in front of the Supreme Court

Action Report

Photos, eyewitness reports, and commentary daily from the ADAPTAction in Washington DC
PHOTO: ADAPT marching to HHS


PHOTO: Spirithawk

PHOTO: Metro police defend the front door of H H S

PHOTO: ADAPT takes the front door of H H S

PHOTO: Marva Ways tells ADAPT of the meeting with Sontag

PHOTO: ADAPT celebrates the victory at H H S

PHOTO: ADAPT marching past the Capitol

PHOTO: ADAPT surrounds the AHCA office

PHOTO: Chris and Suzanne Colsey

PHOTO: Shona and Linda emerge from talks with AHCA

PHOTO: Shona Eakin tells of the victory at AHCA

ADAPT logo: universal access symbol breaking a chain overhead; text: FREE OUR PEOPLE!

HHS and AHCA feel the power of ADAPT

(WASHINGTON DC, May 14) ADAPT began their Spring action with a double hit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the nursing home lobby, the American Health Care Association (AHCA). Winning support to reform the failing Medicaid system that disproportionately supports institutions over community-based options, ADAPT struck at the principal government agency and the foremost opposition. HHS and AHCA both gave their written assurance to meet with ADAPT concerning the barriers that prevent people in nursing homes and other institutions from living in the community.

Twenty representatives of ADAPT from around the country lead the march this morning at 8:30. They met with Ed Sontag, the Chief of Staff to Secretary Tommy Thompson of the Department of Health and Human Services. Five hundred ADAPT advocates followed an hour later to hear the results of the meeting. At 11:00, however, no conclusion had been reached and the advocates outside the HHS office began to chant in support of the ADAPT representatives inside.

The hold-up was that Mr. Sontag would not sign a letter guaranteeing a meeting between ADAPT and Secretary Thompson. 

"As soon as we got to the part about the letter," said Steve Varriden of ADAPT, Sontag put his head down and would not look me in the eye."

Sontag made the ADAPT representatives wait while he prepared the short letter. During the delay, the ADAPT contingent opened patio doors to the upper-level meeting room and could hear the powerful support from below. At the street level, the waiting 500 ADAPT advocates had blocked all the street-level entrances to the giant HHS office building. Notes of events outside the meeting were passed to Sontag.

Secretary Thompson will meet with ADAPT within 60 days. The HHS staff suggested that the meeting would not take place in the Hubert H. Humphrey building, the place where the meeting took place today.

Imminently following the successful action at HHS, ADAPT marched across the Mall to the offices of AHCA and surrounded the building, blocking the entrances. AHCA officials refused to meet with Shona Eakin and Linda Anthony, suggesting instead that only Shona represent all of ADAPT.

At twenty minutes after three, both Shona and Linda went in to meet with Alan DeFend of AHCA. Negotiations stalled and DeFend threatened to call the cops and have Linda and Shona removed. Shona invited DeFend to call the police, however, and passed the phone number to him.

Again the powerful demonstration outside was supporting the negotiations on the inside. DeFend wrote an agreement with Shona and Linda promising a face to face meeting between ADAPT and Dr. Chip Roadman, the President and CEO of AHCA.

ADAPT marched back to the downtown hotel with two important victories that will aid in the implementation of Olmstead, and pave the way for MiCASSA. Advocates were told to get some sleep; tomorrow would be a big day.

- Tim Wheat

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