2002 – New Orleans – Babs Johnson


The hotel was booked. It was the Radisson Hotel behind the Super Dome. It was a funky old hotel on Canal St. The elevators had a mind of their own and would take you where they wanted to go! The airline tickets were bought. The t-shirts, the banner, the Mardi Gras beads, and the doubloons (wooden nickels) and the umbrellas for a New Orleans style funeral march were all bought and ready to go. The trailer was packed.

It was the week before and Bob and Stephanie were in New Orleans. They had scoped out the possible targets. They were Senator’s offices, the Federal Building, and the Convention Center where the American Health Care Association was holding their convention was four to six blocks away. That was the huge center that we saw on the news for the people from Katrina. Bob and Steph were concerned about how close we would be to the French Quarter. The Protection and Advocacy and AARP were ready to help us. They had already begun filing an Olmstead suit.

The press was primed. The first article was in the newspaper. ADAPT to Confront Health Care Lobby in New Orleans, “Our Homes Not Nursing Homes” –

What do you do if you are the “little guy,” a disabled or older American, getting trampled by corporate greed and possible fiscal mismanagement? If your name is ADAPT, you fight back!

ADAPT, the national grassroots, disability rights group, will be in New Orleans, October 5 – 10, to confront the American Health Care Association (AHCA) the nursing home lobby, on its continued opposition to “Community First” for Americans with disabilities, young and old.

“Community First” is the rallying cry of 50 million Americans, old and young, who don’t want to be forced into nursing homes and other institutions when they could receive the same long term care services and supports in their own homes, in their own communities …

“Once again, AHCA is asking Congress to throw money at a problem that begs a far different solution. Did the nursing home industry make a bunch of bad investments with our tax dollars?” Asks Stephanie Thomas, a National Organizer for ADAPT. “Did owners pocket too much as profit? Are they now asking Congress for a corporate bailout? We’d sure like to know why Congress would even think about rewarding possible nursing home industry mismanagement by throwing good money after bad. This is corporate welfare at work.”

While in New Orleans, in addition to holding AHCA accountable for its opposition to “Community First”, ADAPT will be promoting MiCASSA, bi-partisan legislation now in Congress (S.1298 and HR3612), which reforms federal Medicaid policy to allow all Americans in need of long term care services to choose to receive those services in their own homes. ADAPT will challenge AHCA to support MiCASSA and give people with disabilities, older Americans and families a real choice in long term services and supports.

There had already been one hurricane that had come. Now the weather forecast was predicting a worse one for New Orleans. The hotel elevator cables are in the basement. If it flooded the elevators would be the first to go. In fact that could be why they had a mind of their own already! The heads of the hotel met with Bob and Steph. They said that their own families were leaving town. They did not think it was safe for ADAPT to come. They assured Bob and Steph that none of us would lose any money. We had a national emergency conference call. It was decided to cancel the action for the first time in our history.

Bob and Steph packed up immediately and began to drive out of town. All of the roads coming into town were closed. Everyone was being routed out. All of the exits were closed. It was just a good thing that they had enough gas. They drove about 100 miles with seeing nothing but fields of water, but finally made it back to Austin safe and sound.