Yesterday 55 members of ADAPT (an advocacy group for disabled people) were arrested outside AMA headquarters in Chicago when they demanded to meet with AMA Executive Vice President and CEO, Michael Maves. The group is trying to pressure the AMA to endorse home and community based long-term care services and supports for older and disabled Americans instead of forcing them into nursing homes and other institutions.
Right now another ADAPT protest is taking in place in downtown Chicago (See article below).
ADAPT has four demands for the AMA including:
* Endorse the Community Choice Act (S. 799, H.R. 1621) which is federal legislation that would give people eligible for nursing home and/or institutional placement a choice to choose community services instead;
* Work with ADAPT to develop an action plan that assures that people with disabilities and seniors get REAL CHOICE in long-term care services/supports so they are able to live in the legally required "most integrated setting," and provide the AMA membership with continuing medical education programs about community-based alternatives to institutionalization;
* Develop an AMA ethics policy requiring doctors to disclose to their patients any financial interest they have in a nursing facility when they are discussing long-term care with those patients, and to not refer any patient to a nursing home in which the doctor has a financial interest;
* Require that AMA Board of Trustees and leadership divest themselves of all financial interests in nursing facilities, etc.
"With the swipe of a pen, a doctor can take away your freedom by sending you to a nursing home when you're discharged from a hospital rather than exploring options in the community," said Diane Coleman, ADAPT Organizer from Chicago. "I can only wonder if a number of those referrals come because many doctors have ownership interest in nursing homes."
ADAPT points out that currently, Illinois ranks 41st in the nation for providing the community-based services that will allow disabled and older citizens to stay in their own homes. Illinois' long record of being in the bottom ten states puts it among the worst when it comes to human rights in general and disability rights in particular.
"It turns my stomach to know that my state, historically a home of civil rights in America for people of color, is the same state that is one of the worst civil rights performers in regard to people with disabilities," says Chicago native Larry Biondi, an organizer with Chicago ADAPT on the groups web site. "I'm ashamed of Illinois' record of institutionalizing people with disabilities. Right now there almost 20,000 people who have said they want to get out of Illinois' nursing homes- nursing homes they never wanted to go into in the first place. But they were forced to go there by the institutional bias in Medicaid funding, and the state's failure to act in accordance with federal law- law that clearly states that people should receive services in '...the most integrated setting,' which is clearly the community!"
The following is from the Chicago Tribune.
Disabled protesters block downtown Chicago building
A group of disabled protesters is blocking access to elevators and escalators in a government office building in downtown Chicago.
A wall of wheelchairs is preventing occupants of the James R. Thompson Center from exiting or entering their offices, although people are being allowed into the building.
The protesters from the advocacy group ADAPT made a similar effort Monday, blocking the entrances to the American Medical Association in Chicago for more than three hours.
The group wanted the AMA to push for legislation that could lead to more housing options for people with disabilities.
It isn't immediately clear if the Thompson Center protest has the same focus.