Disability rights group stages protest outside governor's office

By Ben Lockhart, Deseret News, September 29, 2015

Pictured are ADAPT protesters in the lobby to the Utah Governor's office.

Disability rights advocates gather Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, to protest at the governor's
office at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Roughly 150 protestors from a national group that advocates for the civil rights of those with disabilities converged on the governor's office Tuesday to ask for changes to state policy.

ADAPT supporters set up directly outside Gov. Gary Herbert's office, reciting chants imploring the governor to adopt the Community First Choice Option, among other demands. Under federal law, states can adopt the Community First Choice Option, which supporters say gives disabled individuals more opportunity to choose alternatives to nursing homes, including at-home care.

"Nursing homes have entrenched themselves deeply in the state political structure and promoted expensive institutionalization and kept people from living in their own homes," ADAPT spokesman Tim Wheat said in a statement.

ADAPT officials also announced Tuesday that Herbert has agreed to meet with them about the Community First Choice Option.

On Monday, the organization staged a protest outside the Utah Department of Human Services. ADAPT officials called the multiple protests "civil disobedience," though organizers also reported no arrests were made.

Wheat said people with disabilities need to be given financially viable choices other than institutionalization. It is a choice in name only when other types of care are cost prohibitive, he said.

"Medicaid bias continues to prefer institutions over less expensive home and community options," Wheat said. "(The Community First Choice Option would incentivize) states to develop Medicaid waivers to allow people to get necessary services outside the inefficient institutions."

ADAPT is also asking the state government to more strictly enforce a moratorium restricting additions onto existing nursing home facilties.

Email: blockhart@deseretnews.com

Twitter: benlockhartnews


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