Statement of Senator John F. Kerry
September 17, 2003
U.S. Capitol -
Greetings and welcome to Washington, DC. Many of you have just completed an extraordinary journey to be here today and I am disappointed that I could not be here to personally add my voice of support for this cause. I absolutely join you in spirit, my friends, because I could not believe more deeply in the battle that we are currently fighting together - the battle to truly free all of our people.
Freedom. Choices. Independence. These are values cherished by all Americans, yet, sadly, not experienced by all Americans.
We truly are standing in an amazing moment in time. With the ADA under one arm and Olmstead under the other, we are equipped with the tools we need to prevail in one of the last stands of the civil rights movement: to ensure the American promises of freedom, choices, and independence in the lives of people with disabilities.
The only piece missing is the political will to make it happen. Well, I say, "No more excuses."
We must end the institutional bias that exists in our current health care system. Of course we need quality nursing homes, hospices, and assisted living facilities in our country. But we need other options, too. We must offer choices.
Senior citizens and people with disabilities do not have real choices if there are no options. To truly make our system work, to offer REAL choices, we must ensure access to quality home and community care services.
That's why I am a proud original cosponsor with my friend, Senator Tom Harkin, of the MiCASSA legislation which gives states the financial assistance they need to reform their long term service and support systems - allowing states to provide REAL CHOICE and helping them to be in compliance with Olmstead.
As you know, among other provisions, this bill would provide people with disabilities community-based attendant services and supports ranging from assistance with health-related functions to those activities of daily living such as eating,
grooming, dressing, and bathing, meal planning and preparation, managing finances, household chores, and shopping.
This bill is not just a good notion - it should be the law of the land. I scoff at those who would laugh at us and say, "wishful thinking." We are bold, we are determined, and we will not take "No" for an answer on this because failure is not an option. It's un-American. We must provide freedom, choices, and independence for all and I will not rest until we do.
I am also alarmed at efforts underway by some of my Republican colleagues to enact an "ADA notification Act," which would throw yet another ninety day waiting period on top of the pile before a non-compliance enforcement action could commence. Ninety days on top of ninety days on top of 120 days. Pretty soon, the law just becomes meaningless, doesn't it?
Justice delayed is justice denied. And none of this will stand in a Kerry Administration. You and your families can be certain that I will be a President for all Americans and that I will take your fight with me all the way to the White House. But I cannot do it alone. I need your help. I ask for your support in this campaign. And I would be honored to have your vote.
Please stay in touch with my campaign website, www.johnkerry.com, where I will soon be formally announcing my entire platform on issues of importance to Americans with disabilities.
Once again, I apologize that I could not make it in person for this historic ADAPT rally. I have been in touch with the event's organizers, though, and have promised to make myself available for a group meeting of ADAPT's top leadership in the very near future. Until then, don't let up the pressure. Keep your faith. Continue to press on. Together we will win this.