Proposed State Funds Cuts Would Dismantle Take care of New Yorkers with Disabilities

Nursing-coordinated organizations that advocate the needs, desires and rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can expect a cut in the state’s executive budget by almost 40 percent.

Mike Grudge / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor Cuomo will present his budget for fiscal year 2022 in Albany in January.

I am the proud parent of a 37 year old male with autism and intellectual disability (I / DD), and to put it bluntly, the state is leaving our community to take care of itself. Time and again, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has failed to plan, administer, or fund the proper supply of I / DD to New Yorkers. Now care coordination programs will be gutted nearly 40 percent in mid-year from the worst modern pandemic we’ve ever seen.

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This is personal to me. Because we all struggle to get through each day safely and in isolation, people with I / DD suffer disproportionately from COVID infections and deaths. They also suffer from skill regression and increased anxiety, disruption of essential programs, and deterioration in the lingering physical effects of illness. How can New York turn its back on these vulnerable people exactly when they need help most?

Given the growing trend towards a lack of transparency regarding COVID-19, the state is shirking responsibility by secretly restricting Care Coordination Organizations (CCOs) and eliminating funding for support services such as 24/7 care, medical assistance, transportation and group homes other critical services. For years, OPWDD has done what it takes or less to keep pace with the funding needed to skip their two-year residential surveys, and they have not come up with a strategic plan for housing services or other Medicaid-funded services as required by law. This lack of transparency is particularly appalling given that millions of vulnerable New Yorkers, regardless of whether they live in nursing homes, prisons, or hospitals, have been deeply cared for. Their care has proven poorly managed.

CCOs are literally a lifeline for people with I / DD like my son. With the mandate of conflict-free care management, the CCOs are the only institutional bodies advocating the needs, desires, and rights of people with I / DD, who intervene with both providers and OPWDD when necessary. Your mission is to protect the health, safety and quality of life of our loved ones. In this time of public health challenges and tax instability, we urgently need these organizations to support people with I / DD. It really is incomprehensible to decimate them now.

We have a system in crisis and chaos that is not prepared for today’s challenges and the promise of a future for our loved ones. As families we need transparency. We need care. We need to know that New York will fight for all of its people, not just a few. We urge the state to end the proposed funding cuts for the CCOs and the entire I / DD sector in preparation for the improved service needs required to restore the pandemic and the full range of residential and rehabilitation services. People with I / DD, their families, the providers and CCOs who support them don’t make less money. My son and loved ones don’t deserve less.

Rachelle Kivanoski is the regional chairwoman of the Care Design NY Individual & Family Advisory Board in Manhattan.

The State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities responded with the following statement: Providing the necessary services to people with developmental disabilities remains a top priority for OPWDD. The pandemic has destroyed government revenues and requires careful scrutiny of all spending decisions. This proposal, which is included in the state budget, aligns reimbursements with the cost of running these programs and does not affect the services they provide to New Yorkers. It also provides incentives for providers to enroll program participants for Medicare if necessary to reduce costs over the long term. Despite the global pandemic and lack of federal funding, the executive budget is calling for government spending on OPWDD programs to increase by 2.8 percent.

Publisher’s Note: Due to an editing error, this post was initially executed with an incorrect version of this post. The post has been updated.

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