Today, ADAPT protested at major nonprofits in Washington DC, to demand support for the Disability Integration Act. By the end of the day, both the Heritage Foundation and Center for American Progress expressed their support for the bill. AARP, however, decided to call the police to disperse disabled protesters. AARP represents the interests of older Americans and reports a membership of over 38 million Americans.
The Disability Integration Act prevents state and local officials and insurance companies from denying community-based long term services and supports to disabled people. First introduced by Senator Charles Schumer, the bill has bipartisan support, as well as support from such prominent non-governmental organizations as the ACLU, Move On, The Arc, and Human Rights Campaign.
ADAPT members used their bodies and wheelchairs to block AARP employees from entering and exiting the building. “Many American’s spend decades in their homes; they build lives there and raise their families. Their homes are daily reminders of all the love and joy they poured into those lives. No one should be forced out of their home simply because they need long term supports and services,” said ADAPT National Organizer Bruce Darling.
Autistic ADAPTer Anita Cameron noted, “as a member of AARP, I expect advocacy on policies that help me continue to live at home even as I am getting older. I have no intention of moving out of the home and community I love; I just need the support to live my life. AARP should be there for me, and they aren’t.”
Dawn Russell, a longtime ADAPT member, speculated about why AARP has not yet endorsed the Disability Integration Act. “The only opponents to the DIA we can conceive of are the insurance providers of the services we need, because our right to liberty costs them money. And as AARP is an insurance provider it is sad to see the organization put its business interests ahead of its members’ interests.”
On social media, several older Americans with disabilities expressed their dissatisfaction with AARP’s refusal to endorse the Disability Integration Act. Cathy Flaherty, a Connecticut healthcare advocate and disabled senior wrote, “if [AARP doesn’t] come out publicly to support
#DIAToday tomorrow they can expect another call to cancel the membership it took me 50 years to earn!”
Police blocked streets and gave warnings, but in the end no arrests were made. ADAPT protesters backed off after AARP leadership agreed to meet tomorrow. As of press time, NOS Magazine was unable to get a comment from AARP.