The Bush Nine
the word spreads about the many protests planned the week of the presidential
inauguration on Jan. 20, Y2000, ADAPTERs burned by W. in Texas will be amongst
the uninvited guests travelling to DC.
five day vigil will be held in support of the "Bush Nine," a group of
ADAPT “Campaign for Real Choice” protesters who will be incarcerated in the
Del Valle Jail in Texas from January 16-20. The nine were arrested for their
crime of civil disobedience in 1999 at W.'s residence, the Governor's Mansion
in Austin. They were found guilty of protesting W.'s and the Texas Attorney
General's support for states rights and opposition to the civil rights of
disabled persons in the Olmstead vs. L.C. & E.W. case brought before the
Supreme Court by the state of Georgia. Texas, siding with Georgia, took a
regressive position that would continue to force disabled persons into nursing
homes and other institutions -- that is, to segregate the disabled population
rather than provide the option of community in-home services.
other Governors across the nation originally signed onto a brief asking the
court to find that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply to
services like long term care. When the Supremes granted certiori, however,
activists convinced a number of those states which had started out in support of
Georgia's Olmstead position, to not take a states rights stance and support the
civil rights of disabled people. Only seven states in the entire nation
refused to budge; the strongest among them was Texas under the leadership of
George W Bush. Like Gov. George Wallace in the 60s, W. does not believe that
federal 90s civil rights laws should be binding on the sovereign state of Texas.
from their states right ideology, the Rehnquist Supreme Court, ruled unnecessary
institutionalization *is* discrimination. The Olmstead decision, as it has come
to be called, is considered by many the Brown vs. Board of Education for the
millions of Americans who are unnecessarily segregated in institutions, nursing
homes and similar large congregate facilities.
despite Olmstead's “most integrated setting rule” which stated that
disabled persons have a right to choose to receive support services at home
rather than be incarcerated in an institution over a year and a half later some
100,000 Texans are still stuck in nursing homes and other institutions due to
lack of state action. Many see the regressive Texas model as a precursor to what
W. has in store for the entire nation -- and unlike Wallace, W. has not reversed
W. totally refused to meet with any disability group during his run for the
presidency. 500 ADAPT activists filled and surrounded the Republican Party
National Headquarters in October in order to gain a meeting with the elusive W.
Dozens of wheelchair users blocked entrances to the Republican Party's
headquarters for five hours. They forced the cancellation of a fund- raiser and
kept party employees from leaving the building, although some staffers climbed
out of first-floor windows.
along with allies from other organizations who were in Washington for the
"March for Justice" rally and march to the Supreme Court, took on the
Republicans and W. for spouting disability policy and putting forth disability
agenda without having first consulted the disability community.
want Bush and the Republican Party to know that we will not tolerate anyone's
patronizing us by deciding in a vacuum what's in our 'best interest'“. Said
Marva Ways, ADAPT Organizer from Detroit, Michigan, "The bottom line is
'Nothing About Us Without Us'!"
often social policy is done to us rather than for us. Activists insistance on
deinstitutionalization is a social movement about taking power from the
paternalistic professionals to direct disabled persons' lives simply because
one needs assistance with the tasks of everyday living. It is about gaining
self-determination and self-preservation amidst a system that is mostly
unaccountable and too often abusive towards those under “care.” To often
policies are developed and done “to” us rather than with us.
same went for the Clinton administration which angered activists when it
supported $50 million for Section 4 of MiCASSA (the in home services bill
pending in congress) and a few hundred HUD vouchers for accessible housing but
came up with billions for the nursing home industry that has literally killed
people and squandered public money to make its profits.
is certain that the nursing home industry contributes huge amounts of money to
candidates on both sides of the aisle and in return, government long-term care
policy remains institutionally biased. Nursing home funding rises while
attendant care service budgets see little or no increase. But the drive for
profit contributes to this form of oppression of disabled persons as well.
what I call the Money Model of disability, for instance, the disabled human
being is a commodity around which social policies are created or rejected based
on their market value. The corporate solution to
disablement-institutionalization in a nursing home-evolved from the cold
realization that disabled people could be commodified; we could be made to serve
profit because federal financing (Medicaid funds 60%, Medicare 15%, private
insurance 25%) guarantees an endless source of entrepreneurial revenue. Disabled
people are worth more to the Gross Domestic Product when we occupy a
"bed" instead of a home. When we individually generate $30,000 -
$82,000 in annual revenues the electronic brokers on Wall Street count us as
assets and we contribute to companies' net worth. Corporate dominion over
disability policy-measures a person's "worth" by its dollar value to
the economy. That is the real crime here.
is no doubt that the nursing home industry is a hotbed of corruption. Horrific
stories detailing negligent “caregiving” have been exposed all over the
nation. The question, it seems, is whether in home services can be developed to
replace institutionalization without similarly commodifying disabled persons
bodies and perpetuating the same problems?
worry, some might say -- after all people will be in their own homes -- they
will not be forced to live in an institution.
is most likely that what will occur is that corporations will take over the in
home services business, indeed promote in home services model as they build
their empires, and the value of the disabled body will continue to reside in
corporate hands. “Consumers” will likely be as powerless to direct their own
attendants in the reformed in home services scenario as they are today in
segregated institutions. There are several reasons for this. Home care
corporations will have the same profiteering drive as institutions. Well-paid
workers are key to quality services but these businesses will likely to pay in
home workers low salaries and offer few benefits (as they do now) to satisfy
their bottom lines. What's more they are likely to medicalize in home services
under a corporate model. Will the disabled person truly be able to direct their
attendant services under a social model where the disabled individual determines
when what who and where? Will one be free to decide who is their attendant, who
will work out for them? Attendant services are a very personal matter for both a
disabled person and a worker. Will one be able to decide when and how
tasks are completed? These are not "efficient" terms under which
businesses usually operate.
is even possible that the crafty dishonest companies may cut hours but still
find ways to make money doing that. Columbia HCA, for instance, recently made a
multi-million dollar settlement with the government over charges that HCA had
billed Medicare for home care services it never provided. Seems this happened in
so many instances to varying degrees that the Clinton administration's
reaction was to cut back on Medicare home care funding to dissuade fraud.
home services under a corporate model will likely mean that disabled persons
will see their “choices” and “freedom” overpowered by an industry that
is looking at the value of its stocks on Wall Street and investor dividends. We
must take a critical view of market driven policies no matter if they do contain
language like “choice” and develop a better delivery model for services.
broader Pro-Democracy inaugural demonstrations provide direction. Without
democratic controls that force accountability, W., the nursing homes and the
developing in home services industry's interests will run rough shod over the
peoples' interests. Only an organized democratic movement composed of all the
social movements can offer any hope of turning the tide of corporate dominion
over our lives. Are we listening to one another?
schedule for the ADAPT vigils:
January 16th at noon 11th and Congress Streets in front of the State Capitol
Press Conference announcing the vigil and its purpose,
January 17th at noon 11th and Congress Legislators will speak out on the need to
focus on the Supreme Courts Olmstead decision, and what this means for Texas,
January 18th at noon 11th and Congress Speak Out from members of the public on
the need to prioritize community based support services, family members and
people using services will speak on the impact on their lives,
January 19th at noon Start from 11th and Congress Canvass the City to get
signatures on petitions in support of community based services,
January 20th at noon 11th and Congress Celebration and announcement of the end
of the vigil.