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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Action Alert: 3 Things You Can Do to Defend the Freedom of Americans with Disabilities!

Our Homes Not Nursing Homes 2012 protest signThe freedom of Americans with disabilities is under attack across the country and from both ends of the political spectrum! Seniors and younger people with disabilities who end up being forced into institutional settings won’t care whether that happened because Democratic Governor Gregoire appealed MR v Dreyfus to the Supreme Court or because Medicaid funding was devastated by implementation of Congressman Paul Ryan’s Republican budget. Either way, they lose their basic rights and freedom.

However, we can take action to defend our freedom! 

1. Get people with disabilities and seniors to write letters to Governor Gregoire!

We’ve sent emails and called the office and Governor Gregoire hasn’t changed her position. Although she is negotiating with the plaintiffs in MR v Dreyfus, the October 22nd deadline for appealing the 9th Circuit Court’s decision to the Supreme Court is looming and she is still committed to eliminating that decision. Gather some people from your community to write personal letters to Governor Gregoire explaining why Olmstead is important to them.

Here are some kinds of people who might do letters:

  • People with disabilities at risk of institutional placement if Medicaid services get cut;
  • parents and families of children with disabilities who rely on Medicaid services;
  • seniors who use home and community-based services to stay at home;
  • people in nursing facilities or other institutions who are working to get out; and
  • attendants who work providing Medicaid-funded personal assistance services.

The Washington State Chapter of ASAN is working with the Alliance of People with disAbilities to organize a group to personally deliver your letters to Governor Gregoire. You can mail you letters to:

Alliance of People with disabilities
Attn: Charity Marie Drummond
1120 E. Terrace St., Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98122

Alternatively, you can fax your letters to 585-546-5643, and we will get them to Washington State.

2. Hold a local press conference or send out a media release about the case!

Governor Gregoire has shown that she is affected by media attention on this issue. Once you have a few letters, send out a short media release announcing a local press conference about the case, or just send out a media release to your local press. You don’t have to be a legal expert to do this. In fact, the opposite is true. The press wants to hear personal stories. You’ve already identified some folks who would be directly affected by the case. Ask them to share their story with the media. If they are nervous about talking to the press, tell them they can just read their letter.

The fact that a Governor in Washington State may be making a decision that affects the freedom of people with disabilities around the country is newsworthy. The media just doesn’t know about it! We can change that!

Modify the sample media advisory (Word document) and sample release (Word document) for your group or organization.

3. On October 17th, hold another press event or issue another media release!

On October 17th, two major events are happening on opposite sides of the country. In Washington State, advocates will be in Olympia delivering our letters to Governor Gregoire. In Pennsylvania, ADAPT is helping coordinate the “My Medicaid Matters” rally in Harrisburg. The rally will call for Real Medicaid reform that helps contain spending while promoting the independence and integration of people with disabilities. These reforms are a sharp contrast to the proposed block granting of Medicaid by Representative Paul Ryan (R) and other House Republicans that would undercut the ability of people with disabilities – particularly those with the most significant needs – to live independently in the community.

These two national events create a great opportunity for organizations to reach out to the media about the importance of Medicaid-funded services, the potential appeal of MR v Dreyfus and the impact of the Ryan budget and block granting on Medicaid.

You can modify the sample October 17th media release (Word document).

Source: ADAPT

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