The national disability rights group, ADAPT, decried the release of federal rules finalizing changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act “companionship exemption” because the changes will result in the unwanted institutionalization of people with disabilities.
“No matter what kind of propaganda the Obama administration manufactures to promote these rules as a victory for attendants and people with disabilities, the reality is that these rules will be devastating for citizens with disabilities who rely on Medicaid-funded home and community-based services for more than 40 hours of assistance per week,” said Bob Kafka, an organizer with ADAPT of Texas.
For more than a year, disability rights organizations have repeatedly raised concerns that the proposed rules would result in the institutionalization of people with disabilities. In fact, these groups pointed out that the Department of Labor itself identified that institutionalization was an outcome of these rules multiple times in its own analysis of the proposed rules. ADAPT reviewed the proposed rules and identified a dozen ways they would result in unwanted institutionalization.
In August, the disability community felt that Secretary of Labor Perez had understood their concerns and was planning to address them when he scheduled a listening session. Despite the fact that disability rights organizations had urge the Obama administration to rethink these rules which were developed without the involvement of the Disability Community, the rules were finalized with only minor wording changes.
“Instead of addressing our issues, Secretary Perez and the Department of Labor steam-rolled over our community,” said Bruce Darling, an organizer with New York State ADAPT. “The decisions were clearly already made. The entire listening session was a complete sham. Secretary Perez should be ashamed of himself and we intend to hold him accountable.”
ADAPT is a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom.
More information about ADAPT and this issue can be found at