Disabled protest disrupts GOP news conference
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, November 2) -- A group of disabled people blockaded the Republican Party's headquarters with wheelchairs Monday, with some chaining themselves to railings, to publicize their complaints about how Medicaid money is spent.
The protest scuttled a GOP news conference intended to counter Democratic charges of voter intimidation.
The activist group "ADAPT" organized blockades of both the Republican and Democratic National Party headquarters by protesters who demanded meetings with ranking lawmakers of both parties.
ADAPT co-founder Michael Auberger said the GOP's chief counsel had agreed to meet with representatives from the disabled community about how to change the payout of Medicaid so it does not discourage in-home assisted care.
To press their demands, the group filled the Republican National Committee's lobby with wheelchairs, and blocked entrances to the building. They said they planned to stay in place several hours. Some used chains and handcuffs to lock themselves to railings.
Earlier, Auberger told CNN the group is concerned that Medicaid presently favors institutional and nursing home care.
One demonstrator, Michigan teenager Melinda Haus, said in an interview from her wheelchair people are often inappropriately placed "just because there isn't any care provided for them. At very young ages, they're stuck in a nursing home, which is absolutely ridiculous."
About 150 demonstrators rolled from a hotel to a subway entrance designed for the handicapped. But at three wheelchairs per trip, the elevator was taking more than an hour to get the group to trains headed for Capitol Hill.
Another group left the hotel in about a dozen vans equipped for the handicapped.
Unable to hold their news conference, Republicans were forced to use a a satellite hookup to defend the use of video cameras at polling places as part of a demographic study. Democrats allege the practice has racial overtones.
Monday, November 2, 1998
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