Something strange is happening behind the White House scenes.
Here’s what I’m tracking: First, as I wrote about last week, 91 ADAPTers were arrested at the White House after unveiling the latest demand that community based services be included in health care reform. ADAPT certainly is acting unhappy with the White House, although I theorize this may have begun as an attempt to break the new guy in and simultaneously spank him for not being as disability rights savvy as his campaign outreach presented him.
Last week’s question was, “What’s ADAPT up to?” This week’s question is, “What’s Obama up to?” Briefly, the guy’s background is in community organizing, and right now he’s mustering support from as many diverse groups as possible to get health care reform passed. Some think he’ll work on it all summer so he can quickly get it passed in early fall, over the likely objections of the Republicans. So maybe it’s not such a tragedy, in Obama’s eyes, if a hard core disability rights group goes beyond supporting health care reform by demanding that reform include additional benefits. Perhaps he’ll let us heat up a bit, build more pressure. In organizing that’s called “escalating.” Is he organizing us?
Last week I conjectured Kareem Dale, Obama’s “crip czar” is sleeping, since I simply do not see a policy arc at this time, which is disturbing. A prominent respected advocate assures me Dale is wide awake, although admittedly he’s had a sharp learning curve. Besides Dale, Obama has also appointed such heavy hitters from our community as Henry Claypool and Kathy Martinez. I strongly suspect there will be another appointment from our community sometime over the summer. I hope that person reads my blog and grants me an interview at the earliest convenient time. If I’m correct, then it won’t be long before a policy arc becomes apparent.
Here’s another partially-substantiated rumor: Now that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services, other HHS appointments will quickly follow. Who will head up the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which falls under HHS? Will it be someone from a fairly large state that has both strong urban and rural components, someone who is currently overseeing a shift from institutional bias to community-based services? Someone who, despite being a career bureaucrat, has the respect of all major disability advocacy groups interacted with? Someone perhaps from my home state of Pennsylvania? If so, I’ve got a shot at a good, long interview. And CMS, generally quite good on long term care under Bush, will become even better.
A lot can change in a week, although right now it’s just a handful of questions and conjecture. I imaging it will all begin to clear up shortly, over the next few months.
Ooooh, I wish I was a patient person … this waiting is tough!