People with disabilities spend a lot of time waiting: waiting on paratransit, waiting on an accessible booth to open up, waiting for affordable healthcare, affordable housing, accessible transportation, waiting to get out of institutions and waiting on our civil rights to be acknowledged and accepted. It’s something that, for many of us, is something that goes on continuously while we’re living our lives. Being on a waiting list is no fun, especially when you have no idea when the list will move or if you will ever make it to the top of the list.
A coworker recently got a Section 8 voucher and had been on the waiting list for thirteen years. I was floored, but then I recalled the signs at Disability Day at the Capitol (thanks to Unlock the Waiting Lists Campaign) that stated how long people have been waiting. I saw one sign that said “I Have Been Waiting for 25 Years!” another had 15, I saw one for 12. It boggles my mind to think of people waiting around trying to get access to services, whether it’s a vouchers for HIV medications, housing, Independent Care Waiver Program, or any number of other vital services that people need to live independently.
Another thing we are always waiting on is reform. Medicaid reform, healthcare reform, housing reform, financial reform. All these reforms are going on and many of us are just waiting for them to pass. These are items that impact us deeply and directly. We have got to start making our elected officials responsible for either dragging their feet on standing up for us or for passing legislation that saves money at the cost of our freedom and well being.
ADAPT’s most recent campaign is “My Medicaid Matters!” we need to send a message that not only does our Medicaid matter, but we matter. We are the people that have to suffer if we can’t get heathcare coverage, we are the people that will be homeless if affordable and accessible housing is not made a reality and we are the people that will be put into an institution because it’s “easier” than dealing with home and community based services (in the minds of our legislators). The waiting has to end, the reforming things at our detriment has to end; it is time to show the Governor, our Senators and Representatives that we mean business and want positive change. Calling, writing and visiting are ways that can help. Let them see your face, learn your name. Go to their office and talk to them for a number of minutes that equal how many years you’ve been on the waiting list (ex: 20 years= 20 minutes). Find some way that illustrates your wait and struggle. Even if you aren’t on a waiting list contact them so they know that you are a concerned citizen and don’t want to be stuck in a line instead of being taken care of. Get the media involved, editorials are great ways of getting exposure to an issue and might be seen by the elected official you are trying to reach.
What are some other ways you can think to drive home the fact that waiting lists put us at risk and don’t actually help to alleviate any issues?
Learn more about the “Unlock the Waiting Lists” campaign here: http://www.unlockthewaitinglists.com/index.html