09/19/18 PRESS ALERT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information:
Stephanie Woodward: (585) 269-9184
Gregg Beratan: (610) 247-4188
Marilee Adamski-Smith: (715) 204-4152
WHO: National ADAPT
WHAT: Protest Confronting Senator Cruz on his Failure to Co-Sponsor the Disability Integration Act
WHERE: Senator Cruz’s DC Office; 404 Russell Senate Office Building
WHEN: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 – happening now
Disabled Activists Demand Support from Senator Cruz on Disability Integration
Washington, D.C. – Organizers with National ADAPT, the grassroots disability rights organization, are demanding that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) cosponsor the Disability Integration Act “DIA” (S.910/HR.2472). The activists are pointing to support already being given by Cruz’s challenger in the upcoming election. Beto O’Rourke was one of the first cosponsors of the legislation, signing on just weeks after it was first introduced in the House. O’Rourke has also announced his intention to cosponsor the DIA if elected to the Senate and has been actively engaging the Disability Community. Disabled Americans have reached out to Cruz’s office over the past few years without response. Today, they bring their demands to Cruz’s Capitol Hill office.
The Disability Integration Act ensures the right to freedom wherever long-term supports are provided. This means Disabled Americans can live where they choose. “Beto [O’Rourke] has acknowledged the steps that have to be taken to ensure equality, including cosponsoring the DIA,” said Josue Rodriguez, an ADAPT organizer from El Paso, Texas. “What about you, Ted? Do you support our right to freedom, too?”
Currently, many disabled people face a terrible choice between the services they need and the freedom to live where they choose, even to be near loved ones. “Americans have the right to live in freedom. But Disabled Americans are only offered freedom in some places,” explained Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer from New York. “Services and supports exist so that every Disabled American could live in freedom, but not necessarily where they are or want to be.”
Many disabled people rely on Medicaid to get the support they need, especially long term supports and services. States are responsible for implementing the program, so the services vary widely. “Disabled people have had to pick up and leave for States where they can be free, because those programs won’t put them in institutions,” said Dawn Russell and ADAPT organizer from Colorado.
Advocate and filmmaker Jason DaSilva shared what it is like to be faced with the choice to give up his freedom in his documentary “Disability Trap.” DaSilva has a self-described “severe disability,” but gets needed support, like attendant services, in his home state of New York. This support allows him to be successful at what he does, working in film and for his non-profit. But since his son’s mother moved with their son to Texas, Jason has suffered tremendously. “I want to be with my son,” he says, “but I need to find the same care I get here in New York.” DaSilva isn’t able to secure the services he needs in Texas and is forced to choose his freedom and career over the opportunity to be near his son by being locked away in a nursing facility.
“All Americans have a right to live in freedom. We should be able to be with our families. Does Ted Cruz actually believe that? We don’t know, but we do know we cannot wait for freedom any longer,” urged Russell.
This issue doesn’t just impact those traditionally recognized as part of the Disability Community. Families throughout Texas – and across the country – struggle to keep seniors at home because states don’t necessarily provide the community-based services needed to avoid unwanted institutionalization. The Disability Integration Act will ensure that these families have the option to stay together and seniors can remain in their homes.