Volume #21 – Issue #8
GOVERNOR CUOMO MUST HEAR YOU NOW
Governor Cuomo has implemented a $15/hour minimum wage for fast food workers and State workers. He is also currently developing his State Budget for next year. We believe that it is critical for the Governor to hear from New Yorkers right now that he needs to include additional funds in the State Budget to support wage increases for workers who provide vital supports and services for people with disabilities.
Please ask staff, families, and everyone you know to send letters to the Governor, their legislators, and local media outlets. It is especially important that the Governor hear from direct support professionals and other staff who support people with developmental disabilities.
Tell the Governor, as he works to increase the state’s minimum wage, that he must consider the importance of supporting wage increases for direct support professionals.
Click here to use the IAC website to automatically send emails and find your local legislators and tell the Governor what we need.
Printed letters can also be generated. Send letters to:
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Once you click the link, click on the box that says “take action.” If you want printed letters, click the circle on the right next to “printed letters” then fill in the sender information.
This may be our only opportunity to influence our own future. Please join us and thank you for your support of this initiative.
GOVERNOR WILL COMBINE TWO SPEECHES INTO ONE
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that he is permanently merging his State-of-the-State and budget addresses. In the past governors have given their State-of-the-State addresses outlining policy agenda on the first Wednesday of the new year, followed several weeks later by a budget address. Cuomo merged the two last year out of necessity after his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, died on New Year’s Day. This year, he decided to keep it as one event that will be held January 13.
CP OF NYS FORMS COPA WITH OTHER DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES ASSOCIATIONS TO CONSOLIDATE ADVOCACY
Five associations, representing 248 agencies providing supports and services for people with disabilities and their families, have formed the Coalition Of Provider Associations (COPA) to address legal and policy issues affecting people with disabilities and the organizations that provide the supports and services critical to their ability to live as independently as possible in their home communities.
The Alliance of Long Island Agencies, Inc. (ALIA), Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP of NYS), the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York (DDAWNY), the InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies (IAC), and the New York Association of Emerging Multicultural Providers (NYAEMP) provide supports and services to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with disabilities and employ more than 120,000 dedicated professionals supporting two of every three people with developmental disabilities across the State.
COPA will work collaboratively to ensure that laws and government policies at both the state and federal level provide the resources necessary to allow people with disabilities equal opportunities. COPA will work to raise awareness of critical issues, educate legislators about the effects of funding cuts to supports and services over the past several years, and illustrate the effects of government actions that have reversed many of the gains made by people with disabilities and their families in the past 40 years.
“Our member organizations have always been efficient in their operations and passionate providers of supports and services for people with disabilities,” said Susan Constantino, President & CEO of CP of NYS. “Recent funding cuts and policy decisions have created a greater need for us to share information and resources. This new organization is one more example of how we work collaboratively to promote opportunities and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families.”
COPA will identify additional issues that create obstacles for people with disabilities and work collaboratively with families and other organizations with similar goals to end the policies preventing New York from living up to its mandated obligations to support people with disabilities and ensure that they are part of communities statewide.
GOVERNOR CUOMO SIGNS AND VETOES BILLS OF INTEREST TO CP OF NYS AFFILIATES
As expected, Governor Cuomo signed S.3638-A (Ortt)/A.7200 (Gunther) which requires that a managed care organization must only contract with non-profit providers of long term supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities. CP of NYS proposed this legislation and our letter in support can be found here.
Unfortunately, we are extremely disappointed that Governor Cuomo vetoed a number of bills, including S.4974-A (Ortt)/A.7327-A (Gunther), which would have eliminated MRT #26 – the cut to Article 16 clinics that provide more than the average number of services. The Governor’s veto message (Veto #265) provides the specious arguments that he is “compelled” to veto the bill because:
• It would “cost the State $2.4 million” – when in fact the State cost was at most $1.2 million as the other 50% is federal share.
• It would “undermine the ability” of DOH to implement “appropriate utilization controls” on high cost services – These are OPWDD clinics and are the low cost therapy services. Additionally, capping everyone at an average number of services, regardless of diagnosis or acuity, is not “appropriate utilization controls.”
• It would increase State costs and should be included in the State Budget discussion – the sponsors have attempted numerous times to include this in the budget discussion but DOH refused to consider it even after all of the other MRT cuts were restored a year early.
We will continue to work with the sponsors, Disability Rights New York, and our colleagues to pursue a repeal of this cut and the New York State policy which requires individuals to receive their services in a segregated Article 16 clinic rather than the integrated Article 28 clinic where they receive their other services. This New York State law and policy discriminates against those with significant disabilities, violates the right to fair hearing, and is a violation of the ADA and Olmstead.
In addition, Governor Cuomo vetoed bills strongly supported by CP of NYS that would have:
• Required DOH to provide Early Intervention Program data (S.5497 – Veto #270).
• Required the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council to submit and post a statewide plan for services, change the appointment process so the Governor appoints 23 members and the temporary president of the senate and the speaker of the assembly appoint 5 each; includes specific issues the council can recommend action on; requires statewide plans be posted on websites and submitted to the Legislature by January 15th of each year (Veto #235).
The Governor also vetoed A.7332 (Lupardo), which was opposed by CP of NYS because it would have required that the developmental centers remain open if there were not state operated community services available. We agree with the Governor on this veto that it would be a violation of Olmstead. The veto message #239 is here.
Following are additional bills of interest that were recently signed or vetoed by the Governor:
• A.3404 (Titone)/S.5932 (Savino) – Signed 11/21/15 as Chapter 430 – Establishes a structured review of technology systems used for locating missing children with developmental disabilities; asks for recommendations.
• S.4517 (Lanza)/A.3533 (Titone) – Signed 11/20/15 as Chapter 483 – Provides for gifts on tax returns for autism awareness and research.
• A.8172 (Morelle)/S.5883 (Robach) – Veto #246 – Relates to claims for payment furnished by providers under the medical assistance program.
Click here to find the bill text and memo of any bill.
ELKS GRANT IS A BIG BOOST FOR CP OF THE NORTH COUNTRY PROGRAM
The NYS Elks Association donates nearly $500,000 a year to help fund the CP of NYS Home Service program in all 24 of the organization’s Affiliates. For several years, the Elks have donated additional support for specific projects at various organizations all across the state. One of the organizations benefitting from the generosity of the Elks this year is Cerebral Palsy Association of the North Country.
CP of the North Country Home Service Director Jim Williams worked with other staff in the agency to submit a request for funding to support the agency’s Outdoor Recreation Program. The request for $3,100 in funds to purchase 2 kayaks, paddles, an extra-large riding helmet, and a handheld GPS device was granted by the Elks. “The award of this grant from the Elks will really help move the Outdoor Rec program forward,” said Williams. “With these funds we will be able to purchase some new equipment and develop a new aspect of the program.”
The Outdoor Rec Program has a goal to promote healthy lifestyles and skills through year-round activities like canoeing, kayaking, skiing, snow-shoeing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, exercise groups, and more. The flexibility afforded to the Home Service position by way of the Elks’ ongoing support, along with the funding of a vehicle to transport participants of the program to and from activities, helps make the Outdoor Recreation Program possible.
To learn more about Cerebral Palsy Association of the North Country’s Outdoor Recreation Program, please visitcpnorthcountry.org. To find out more about the NYS Elks Association, visit their website at nyselks.org, or find out more about the Home Service program at cpofnys.org.
Pictured Left to Right: Tim Welpe, Potsdam Elks Lodge, Maria Hernandez, Outdoor Recreation Program Assistant, Jim Williams, Outdoor Recreation Program Coordinator, and Tim Kelly, Watertown Elks Lodge.
GRANTS HELP PUBLIC AND NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS OFFER TRANSPORTATION SERVICES TO NEW YORKERS IN NEED
The Federal Transit Administration has approved $39.4 million in funding for public and non-profit organizations in New York State to purchase 415 accessible vehicles and other equipment used to assist in the transportation of seniors and people with disabilities.
Since 1974 more than $210 million in grant funding has been secured to help purchase approximately 4,500 accessible vehicles. The program was significantly expanded in 2015 from solely funding vehicle purchases to now including capital projects, operating assistance, and mobility management services which build coordination among transportation providers in order to expand the availability of service.
More than 150 non-profit and public organizations, including Cerebral Palsy Transit (CP of NYS), UCP of NYC, UCP of Greater Suffolk, the Center for Disability Services, E. John Gavras Center, and Empower (formerly Niagara CP) received awards in 2015. These organizations provide over 1.8 million passenger trips annually for seniors and individuals with disabilities in New York State.
To view the full list of awards, click here.
The Fall/Winter OPWDD People First News on-line newsletter is now available here.
This edition has a story on an accomplished artist from CP of NYS Affiliate the Center for Disability Services. There is also an article about a new newsletter from the DDPC. You can subscribe to that on-line newsletter here.