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'Real choice' -- some questions
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Mar. 13, 2001 -- An announcement in late February from HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson about Real Choice Systems Change grants seemed at first to be all good news. The press statement noted the grants were to "involve consumers and other partners in developing new programs for persons with disabilities in support of President Bush's New Freedom Initiative."

The news announcement said the $50,000 awards, which are "available to all states and territories that request one," represent the "first payment in a new $50 million grant program aimed at improving the home and community-based services available to children and adults living with disabilities." (Read the press release at

Not so fast, say some disability advocates. Although the grants will allegedly "help pay for the development of what the Bush administration calls " public-private partnerships, including consumer task forces" and "advise on the use of future federal grants that will increase services and supports to people with disabilities," some advocates have been concerned that disability groups will not be part of the process.

An article in the Feb. 26 Washington Post, Thompson made absolutely no mention of the need -- or even the desirability -- of states working with the disability and aging communities to fashion strategies and solutions.

Read the White House "New Freedom Initiative" at

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