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
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