When I got to work this morning and saw a bunch of cops standing around outside the American Medical Association building, across the street from the Reader at Grand and State, I thought maybe Bill Clinton was still in town flogging his book and was about to bring his message about giving to the AMA plaza's population of dog walkers, transients, and smokers.
I was wrong: within half an hour more than 500 disability-rights activists from all over the country descended on the building, ringing the base with wheelchairs, while a faction of about 30 rolled down Illinois past the Reader to crowd into the entrance of the AMA loading dock.
Sponsored by ADAPT, the action was intended to rally support for Medicaid reform, specifically the Community Choice Act, which would allow people eligible for nursing home care to choose where and how money is spent to provide services and support--in their own home, for example. Here's their list of demands, courtesy of Stephen Drake, a research analyst for Forest Park-based Not Dead Yet:
"1. Endorse Community Choices Act and actively promote passage (e.g. include on AMA website and on advocacy agenda)
"2. Work with ADAPT to develop action plan to assure that pwd and seniors get REAL CHOICE in long term care (ltc) services/supports and are able to live in most integrated setting. Provide membership with continuing medical education proograms about community-based alternatives to institutionalization
"3. Require that AMA Board of Trustees and leadership divest themselves of all financial interests in nursing facilities, etc.
"4. Develop AMA ethics policy that all AMA member MDs must full disclose their financial interests in any ltc facilities to their patients when discussing ltc issues, and not refer any patient to a ltc facility in which they have any financial interest."
The activists made a lot of noise, mostly chants along the lines of "Hey hey, ho ho, nursing homes have got to go," and according to one guy (who came in from Kansas), about 70 people were arrested after refusing CPD orders to disperse. A police spokesperson said 42 citations were issued but nobody was arrested; I'm awaiting information on what the citations were for.
I did get some pics but I fear they don't really do the scene justice. As Mike Miner eloquently put it, after coming to peer out my window, "Individually, no one's more invisible than a person in a wheelchair. Collectively they're pretty spectacular."