NYS Budget passes with important protections and support for people with disabilities

Thank you to all the people that make up the ARISE community for the hard work and effort they put in to help us in our mission to create a NYS budget that supports the needs of people with disabilities.

ARISE folks sent Action Alert e-mails to the Governor and our Legislators, as well as made phone calls to their offices. ARISE visited seven NYS legislators in their local district offices and attended the New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) Budget Advocacy Day in Albany. Five ARISE staff people in the CDPAP program took a bus to N.Y.C. and spent a very cold day at a rally in front of the Governor’s Manhattan office to Save CDPAP!

Here are the victories to celebrate as a result of all our hard work:

  1. Funding increase for Independent Living Centers. The $500,000 increase is our first funding increase in over a decade. It is a small amount, split amongst the 32 Centers—but it is a start. Further, we have developed strong support for ILC funding with the Education Committee Chairs in both houses of the Legislature. This gives us great momentum we can build on next year.
  2. Statewide source of income protection. Landlords are now prohibited from denying tenants a rental on the basis of their legal source of income—such as Section 8 vouchers or SSI benefits—in EVERY village, town, city and county in New York State.
  3. Increased funding for Centro. The nearly 10% increase in operating expenses over last year’s budget will enable Centro to avoid any cuts to bus routes and hours of operation. In addition, the state created a 6% tax on all rental car transactions in the state. This permanent source of funding will go annually to all upstate regional transportation authorities.
  4. Spousal/parental refusal protected. People who have a spouse or child who become sick or disabled and require Medicaid will not have to divorce or institutionalize their loved ones just so they can get the care they require!
  5. Prescriber prevails protected.  In the case of a conflict between physicians and managed care organizations in recommendations for the best course of treatment for Medicaid patient care, doctors will have the final say—even if the cost is higher.
  6. Funding increase for New York Connects. ARISE is part of this program that gives information and referrals on access to long-term care and other programs. They received a $1 million increase over two years.
  7. Funding to implement early voting reforms. The state passed legislation earlier this year to create a nine-day early voting period during general elections in November. This budget included funding for the necessary technology upgrades—electronic poll books and ballot printers, as well as the costs for the county Boards of Elections to run the extra voting days.

The fight over the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPA):

The original budget proposal by the Governor would have destroyed the CDPA.  The rallies, visits with legislators and the protest at the Governor’s office in NYC succeeded in getting everyone’s attention and helped create a better final proposal. However, the Governor is able to make changes to the funding mechanism for the program without authorization in the budget, so CDPA is still under threat.

One of the results of the negotiations on this program is the agreement to create a workgroup made up of representatives from the ILC’s, the managed care companies, consumers and the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of NY.  The workgroup will be charged to:

  1. Develop best practices for the provision of fiscal intermediary services;
  • Inform the criteria for the application to be a fiscal intermediary;
  • Identify whether services should differ for different groups of consumers;
  • Identify what criteria should be used in reporting; and
  • Develop transition plans for consumers who may need to transition to a different fiscal intermediary.

Despite our hard work, we still were unable to accomplish one of our most needed goals.

There is a desperate need across our region and our state to help low-income families finance the repairs they need to make their home more accessible. The alternative for many is being forced to move or to enter a nursing home.

Despite this clear need, New York State declined to increase the funding for the Access to Home program. Access to Home is the only state program offering grants to low-income families to make accessibility modifications to their homes.

The budget for the ENTIRE state of New York is only $1 million. In Onondaga and Cayuga Counties, the program has only $75,000 for the year. Madison County receives no funding. ARISE in Syracuse has been contacted by over 150 families over the past year looking for financial help to build ramps and widen doorways for their homes.

We will certainly redouble our efforts to change that for next year’s budget.

 

Phil Prehn

Systems Change Advocate

ARISE

635 James Street

Syracuse, N.Y. 13203

(315) 671-4658 [Phone]