Speech to the Department of Medical Assistance Budget Committee

First let me state that all of us here know that it is not a lack of money which creates the institutional bias in Ga and America but a misdirection of funds associated to the issues of long term care. Especially now when Atlanta and Georgia seem at the height of history being and Olympic and Superbowl town in recent years. With the continued immigration of person's from all parts of the world to our hospitable metropolis surely it is not a lack of money which is the central issue but whether state's and corporations have the right to profit at the expense of the people.

We are glad the DMA realizes how very important it is to have consumer input into the questions we are now delving. Many of us myself included are proof positive as to the benefits of the waiver program as opposed to institutional care. What i've been able to do or done is because of life in a safe, secure, healthy environment conducive to creativity and inspiration. Without the help of the Georgia Medicaid Waiver I would not have had the support to become as actively involved in legislative and logistical aspects of Long Term Care here and in the Nation.

Many here just came back from Washington DC where we are protesting a case stemming from Georgia where Tommy Olmstead, commissioner of DHR in Georgia appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States for state's rights to determine long term care placement, challenging the Title 2 of the ADA which calls for inclusion in the most integrated setting.. This enough is proof that Georgia is far behind as far as supporting the ILP. Without the element of security in my life I could not and would not have had the ample space to pursue the many endeavors which entice my soul.

It is vitally important that opportunity be extended to all people currently in nursing homes or enroute there whose lives are preoccupied by the most trivial and simple things that we overlook everyday; (things like brushing teeth, washing hair, eating, or even getting up.) In Georgia, we must decide not if its cost effective, but whether we are willing to allow institutional murder to continue unprotected and unadministered simply because a few in past history established contracts which were biasly written to favor corporate profit instead of human compassion.

People like Mary Hicks, Winifred Jones, and Beatrice Guyton who wish live in a community setting but are locked away at a cost of 30+,000 to 40,000 for nursing home placement and 80,000 to 180,000 for mental institution placement. We must do something soon so that they can embellish the Independent Living Philosophy which the Independent Care Waiver is truly about. In that way they/I can live by example for others showing them hope in being.

This will flower other advocates who will spurn the Independent Living Philosophy forward into all issues associated with disability. If we do decide to truly work towards consumer managed care and community based services then let us do so with whole hearted enthusiasm. The decisions we make today can either continue to propagate nursing home death, or begin the ripple that will transcend legislation and grant people once devastated by fate lives again touched by inspiration. We should ask not if there is money to provide that type of service, but where the money for LTC is currently being spent.

Then we should ask not whether disabled individuals (1/5 of the population) deserve access to the same free and beautiful life, but how it got to be that they, we were, and are still denied the simple god-given blessing of conscious experience in a place of personal preference.