Cops Help Activist With Her Medicare Message
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 5, 2006
WEST JORDAN, UTAH--A disability rights activist, who wanted the public to know that Medicare policies are forcing her ex-husband to be held in a nursing home against his will, got help Friday from an unexpected source -- police officers.
Ricki Landers told the Deseret News that she and five supporters planned to stop traffic on a major thoroughfare during Friday evening rush hour to draw attention to the fact that ex-husband Gail Hansen has to stay in a nursing home for three weeks because the federal health insurance program won't otherwise pay for the medications he needs to fight an infection.
West Jordan police officers saw Landers in her wheelchair holding her homemade sign asking motorists for help in changing Medicare Part D rules. The officers met the group on the site and told them it was too dangerous and illegal to try stopping traffic. They told Landers, however, that she might get a better response if she contacted a newspaper reporter, and parked on the sidewalk near the corner of the intersection. They then escorted her to a prominent spot, and reportedly blocked a turn lane for 20 minutes while she held up her sign for all to see.
A columnist with the Salt Lake Tribune noted that U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch's office spent several hours trying unsuccessfully to find a pharmacy that would donate the antibiotics Mr. Hansen needs so he can go home.
Landers participated with nearly 200 members of the grassroots disability advocacy group ADAPT in the 2003 "Free Our People" march from Philadelphia to Washington, DC. The action was designed to build support for MiCASSA, the Medicaid Community based Attendant Services and Supports Act, which would shift the bias in long-term care money away from nursing homes and other institutions so more people could receive community-based attendant services in their homes.