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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Obama: Liar, Politician or Compromiser?

Those interested in disability rights know about the Community Choice Act (HR1670 and S683). Like many, I am a firm believer in community based care and services. Not only does community based care save money, it empowers those that do not want to live in a nursing home. I am not talking about just the elderly. I am thinking of all those that can live independently with a few hours of basic assistance. Does it make any sense to send a person to a nursing home simply because they need assistance getting dressed and bathing? It does in most states because Medicaid provides long term care provided in an institutional setting. This is what ADAPT calls the institutional bias.

Obama and Biden were cosponsors of the Community Choice Act. They spoke of the CCA often. When disability came up on the campaign trail, they often mentioned their strong support for this bill. Obama repeatedly stated that health care reform was needed and that the CCA was going to be part of that. This was great--finally a president was elected that got disability rights and understood why community based care was important. All was great until ADAPT met with Nancy-Ann DeParle, the so called "health care csar" in the administration. ADAPT reported that the Community Choice Act would not be part of the president's health care reform. DeParle told this to ADAPT and I thought no way Obama can do this. He is too smart and more to the point I actually believed him when he said he supported the Community Choice Act. Surely ADAPT misunderstood DePerle and I wondered if chants at demonstrations such as "I'd rather got to jail than die in a nursing home" were helpful. Gosh, what jerk--that is me and Obama. I never should have doubted ADAPT.

The above came to me as I was reading an excellent article in the Times Union by Michael Volkman. Volkman pointed out something I had missed: at the president's White House disabilities page any mention of the Community Choice Act is gone. Instead of strident support Obama has empty platitudes. If I wanted platitudes and "special" services I would have voted Republican. At least with Republicans and conservatives, they are clear that people with a disabilities are not a priority. Their compassion is for "special children" not the adults they become. Disabled kids are ever so special and provide great photo opportunities--this is one thing Palin excelled at.

So what does Obama believe now? States should be encouraged to provide community based services because they are more cost effective and humane. Thank God, we are saved! What a bitter disappointment. Who is going to suffer because Obama failed to live up to his promise to support the CCA? The most vulnerable, those at the greatest risk. The nursing home industry, what Harriet McBryde Johnson called the disability gulag, has won once again.


Terri said...

I was appallee when I heard this as well.

william Peace said...

Terri, I have had a night to think about this. I will remain supportive of Obama because I have no other choice. But I will not believe a single word he utters. He is just one more politician in a long line of politicians to reach high office. The mistake made was in believing he was different, that he cared about disability rights. Obviously the CCA is just another bill that can be bartered over.

Full Tilt said...

Hi Bill,

I actually just found an e-mail from the Obama Whitehouse in my account and was thinking about this issue. Your post voiced my views quite eloquently and I am going to write to Obama on this issue myself. Thanks.