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Open Letter to Rachel Maddow RE: Nursing Home Challenge

April 13, 2020
Open Letter to Rachel Maddow
RE: Nursing Home Challenge



Thank you for covering the issue of people dying in nursing homes and group homes for people with disabilities so accurately last week, and your brilliant coverage of ADAPT’s activism during the Affordable Care Act (ACA) battles in the summer of 2017.

The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies is a disability-led coalition of local, state and national disability rights experts (including ADAPT) and is the only national disability-led organization with a focused mission on equal access, disability rights and full inclusion of people with disabilities, older adults, and people with access and functional needs before, during and after disasters and emergencies. One of our top priorities is ending the illegal institutionalization of people with disabilities during disasters.

Please connect the untold story about the institutionalization of people with disabilities in previous disasters to the thousands of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.

Your viewers need to know that:

  • The hard-won civil rights of people with disabilities are not suspended during disasters.

  • In disasters, the US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services illegally waives civil rights protections that keep people out of institutions. These waivers illegally allow states to:

    • Place people into nursing homes directly from their home, from an emergency room, or a disaster shelter, bypassing the standard regulations.

    • Enables hospitals and doctors to move people from a hospital bed to a nursing home when the hospital determines that they need the bed for someone else.

  • Moving people to nursing homes in disasters was frequently deadly BEFORE COVID-19. Now, it is proving to be a death sentence.

  • Nursing home placements in disasters are bad for:

    • People placed there before COVID-19

    • People who have contracted COVID-19

    • People who have not yet contracted the virus

    • Staff & families

  • The overt oppression is compounded by the lack of consent, extreme limits on communication with family, and the disproportionate impact of institutionalization on people of color and other marginalized people.

Here are two of our recent publications on this issue:

Preserving Our Freedom: Ending Institutionalization of People with Disabilities During and After Disasters was delivered on May 24, 2019, to President Trump by the National Council on Disability (an independent federal agency). The contractors for this report were from the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies. The Partnership also published Getting It Wrong: An Indictment with a Blueprint for Getting It Right: Disability Rights, Obligations and Responsibilities Before, During and After Disasters.

For more information, please contact: 

Germán Parodi and Shaylin Sluzalis

Co-Executive Directors of The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies

Email: dart@disasterstrategies.org

Website: www.disasterstrategies.org

Facebook: @PartnershipforInclusiveDisasterStrategies

Twitter: @disasterstrat

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