Press Release – Members of ADAPT are at former Vice President Biden’s home seeking his support for the Disability Integration Act (S.117/HR.555)


For More information:
Dawn Russell: (303) 884-1471
Marilee Adamski-Smith: (715) 204-4152
Daniese McMullin-Powell: (302) 507-7546

WHO: Dawn Russell: (303) 884-1471
WHAT: Members of ADAPT are at former Vice President Biden’s home seeking his support for the Disability Integration Act (S.117/HR.555)
WHERE: At Vice President Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware
WHEN: Happening Now

Members of ADAPT are at former Vice President Biden’s home seeking his support for the Disability Integration Act (S.117/HR.555)

Members of ADAPT have repeatedly contacted Vice President Biden’s campaign staff to urge the Democratic nominee to publicly support the Disability Integration Act (S.117/HR.555) as has every other Democratic nominee for President, including Senator Kamala Harris who is a cosponsor of the bill. Rather than engage the group who was instrumental in saving Obamacare, campaign staff have refused to meet with them. Frustrated, members of ADAPT have traveled across the country to former Vice President’s home in Wilmington, Delaware. The activists are calling on Vice President Biden to publicly support the Disability Integration Act (S.117/HR.555).

The Disability Integration Act (DIA) is bipartisan and bicameral legislation, introduced by Senators Charles Schumer, Minority Leader (D-NY) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) in the House, to address the fundamental issue that people who need Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) can be forced into institutions, losing their basic civil and human rights. Today, the legislation is more important than ever as elderly and Disabled people – particularly Black and brown people with disabilities – unnecessarily die from COVID-19 because they have been warehoused in nursing facilities and other institutions.

Vice President Biden has a long history of supporting the freedom of people with disabilities and in 2003 addressed ADAPT members who marched 144 miles from Philadelphia to Washington DC to FREE OUR PEOPLE. Despite repeated requests from disability rights activists, Biden campaign staff have excluded DIA from his platform. Biden’s Disability Platform supports programs that fund efforts to transition people with disabilities from institutions into the community, including the Money Follows the Person Demonstration Program, but these programs – alone – do not go far enough. Without an enforceable civil right, people with disabilities will continue to be forced into institutions by states and private managed care companies. This is particularly true for Black and brown people with disabilities who are less likely to access home and community based alternatives to institutionalization.

The bill is important because it would clarify and strengthen the Supreme Court’s Olmstead integration mandate by:

  • Creating a direct and clear statutory requirement for the community integration of Americans with Disabilities in regard to the provision of LTSS;
  • Adding Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) as directly covered entities;
  • Establishing a new, stronger definition of “community-based”;
  • Reducing the threshold of protection so that all people at risk of institutionalization are protected;
  • Eliminating the treating professional role in determining whether community integration is appropriate for the individual with an LTSS disability;
  • Establishing specific prohibitions addressing systemic discrimination which is not only permissible under current law, but rampant across the country (waiting lists, restrictive eligibility criteria, service gaps, cost caps, and inadequate rates);
  • Requiring public entities to address the need for affordable, accessible, integrated housing that is independent of service delivery;
  • Eliminating the fundamental alteration defense so that public entities will be required to modify their programs to assure that people with disabilities can receive LTSS in the community and can lead an independent life;
  • Requiring public entities and MCOs to engage in a self-evaluation that has substantial public participation;
  • Requiring public entities to develop and implement a transition plan with milestones or benchmarks;
  • Establishing a process to assess compliance with the milestones and reward states that meet their deadlines; and
  • Establishing the ability to be awarded punitive damages.

Earlier this week, ADAPT denounced Senator Susan Collins for refusing to cosponsor the Disability Integration Act. Having literally put their lives on the line, these Disabled activists from ADAPT are calling on the Democratic nominee to express his support for this critically important civil rights legislation.