To Them that Can Make A Change

I write this to you in Support of HR2020 The Community Attendant Services Act. Serious consideration must be brought upon any State that spends 85% of its current Long Term Care budget to house its elderly and disabled populations in nursing home institutions. In Ga we are also deliberating over Long Term Care with HB 512 The Long Term care Choice Act. I support these two bills because 90% of individuals in nursing homes would if they could, live abroad in the community supported by services to aid in activities of daily living. However in many states including our own, beauacracy would rather spend 30+,000 dollars a year plus annual SSI SSDI to house one individual in a single instituitional setting when specific individual care could be afforded in the community at 1/3 the cost.

Alternative methods to the current medical model must be pursued to truly come to terms with the dilemma of Long Term Care here in the State of Ga and in the Nation. Not only are institutions not economical but they are unsoulful, degrading to the human spirit, and defeating to human pride, passion.

Many institutions let not any of their patrons leave the confines of the inner halls musk with dank smells, for fear of a few wandering off. My own friends who live in nursing homes do not even have choice to get up everyday or be included in any real association, relationship beyond the institution itself. Staff in nursing homes are regularly assisgned to look over some 20 to 30 patients at a time, and rely on most not getting up to pull off their schedules.

These conditions exist right now this moment. Every 3 minutes as we speak another dies alone tucked away abandoned by heartless circumstance and cruel legislation. This is the reason advocates nationwide push forward in whichever way we can to save those who will be next, who will not have the fortune of family to help transition them through tragedy, or the mobility to do it themselves. The numbers increase even now.

So I, We are here seeking resolution, compassion to circumstance which beyond fate occur regardless wealth race or gender. 25% of the persons going into nursing institutions now in GA, are young individuals with disabilites who have no alternate course, no support network, but are in no harm of dying intially from their injuries.

We must empower the communitty of individuals with disabilities, grant choices, so that in empowering and enabling the independent living philosophy, there will be those who step forward and bring about productive and fruitful changes, benefitting both individuals and the state.

People I know are dying even now from injuries sustained from living in cruel instititions neglected and overlooked. Floyd Burns, A guy I met a year ago, died 3 weeks ago from bed sores and complications. He was 43 years old, the same level injury as me and only 5 years into his accident.

I am not here today to talk about money that will be lost by corporate providers, or votes lost through campaign supports. We are speaking of real flesh and blood people, who feel, hurt, want and need just like every American guaranteed civil rights by birth. If you want to know what we need ask us. Not some commission of authority or some Doctor of learning, but the all individiuals experiencing, adapting, and knowing disability day to day, moment to moment, living the reality of it.

The money we spend supporting instituitions and home health agencies can be better spent in waiver programs which would support and enable the independent living philosophy. Currently Pennsylvania, Kansas, Colorado and several other Northern states have statewide waiver programs implemented and research studies already documented as to the common sense thought of self-managed in community care as oppossed to care within institutional settings.

The philosophy of Independent Living must be the heart and soul of any alternative to any medical model or current legislation, if not it will fail. Unless focus is placed on the individual and not the corporation, freedom will not be served. We must give dignity back to individuals who have been shattered beyond all imagination, turning them from an economical burden into a taxpaying workforce.

Many states are far beyond Ga in exploring alternative methods of servicing both the elderly and disabled communities. Perhaps we should look to them and not waste much valuable time repeating discussions or meetings that have already occurred in time. Let us move forward and progress with the new millenium.